Steele addresses frustration from businesses and consumers as both adjust to change in ABST rate

As consumers are still getting accustomed to the 2 percent increase
on the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST), consumers are being
advised to report any discrepancies or concerns to the Prices and
Consumer Affairs Division.

Additionally, businesses are being asked to display their prices so
that the consumers can know, beforehand, what an item costs.
In particular, restaurants and other food establishments are being
warned to include the ABST in the price of the food items carried on
their menus.

The Division says the ABST should not be added when payment is
being made – in the same manner as the service charge – but must
be embedded in the total.
Meanwhile, if there are any queries related to price-controlled
goods, Orrin Steele, the director of the Prices and Consumer Affairs
Division, says the Division is always willing to assist.
If consumers feel they were unfairly charged, or that some level of
price gouging is taking place, he says the Division should be notified
in order to help rectify the situation.

According to Steele – who again touched on the display of menus –
if the ABST is not included in the prices, it will create some level of
frustration and confusion for consumers.

Orrin Steele, director of the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division.

In the meantime, some restaurant operators have complained that
the Government is trying to “hide” its new rate of tax and making the
new menu prices appear to be the “outrageous” decision of the

Sources tell REAL News there has been pushback from hotel guests,
as well. They report that some visitors who booked their vacation in
2023 – when accommodation was taxed at 14 percent – have flatly
refused to pay the new rate of 17 percent, and insisted that the
hotels absorb the cost, instead.

Reportedly, the situation prompted an emergency meeting among
hoteliers, but the outcomes of their discussions were not shared.
Meanwhile, other sectors are simply having difficulty with the
implementation of the new 17 percent rate. While making the
change in the system was easy enough, the manpower is lacking, in
many instances, to re-price the goods, businesses have complained.