Among overseas elected officials, fear of a reform of the tax on imported goods

The port of Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, May 25, 2023.

Overseas elected officials bared their claws on Monday, November 20, at the opening of the congress of the ociation of Mayors of France (AMF), in Issy-les-Moulineaux, in Hauts-de-Seine.

In question, the announced reform of dock dues. This old tax on imported goods now brings in 1.5 billion euros per year to local authorities overseas, but it is often considered responsible for the high cost of living in these territories. Set by the regional or departmental councils of Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion, the dock dues finance on average 40% of municipal expenses.

“Let us be vigilant, when a measure is spontaneously proposed by Bercy, we can legitimately imagine that the reform results in a loss of financial autonomy, a capture by the State of certain resourceswarned the president (Les Républicains, LR) of the AMF, David LisnardMonday morning. We will not accept speeches that say we are finally taking action on decentralization, and actions that would unfortunately continue to recentralize action. »

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers The cost of living overseas, a very sensitive subject for the government

In the afternoon, the President (LR) of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, who in turn received the elected officials, warned: “For more than fifteen years, we have been experiencing recentralization. Our municipalities have lost a large part of their financial autonomy. I call for the greatest vigilance. »

Before the National embly’s commission of inquiry into the cost of living overseas, in June, the Minister Delegate at the time, Jean-François Carenco, spoke of ” malfunctions » of dock dues and ured that the tax increased the price of a packet of flour in supermarkets by 27.5%, or those of butter and baby food by 20%. But for Serge Hoareau, president of the ociation of Mayors of Reunion Island, if food costs 37% more on the island than in France, this comes from the way in which prices are set in m distribution, characterized by “opacity”. “We found a culprit, the dock dues are a false trial. It brings 400 million euros to our municipalities and 150 million to the region, and it allows the economy to functionhe said. Removing it would be a declaration of war on communities. »

The political debate promises to be tense

When elected officials lowered the tax on certain products after the social movements of 2009 in Guadeloupe, it was useless, said Jocelyn Sapotille, mayor of Lamentin, because “Importers have increased their margins”.

The current Minister Delegate, Philippe Vigierwished to reure the city councilors, ensuring that “sea dues will not be removed”. “Whatever happens, the municipalities will not be the adjustment variables of this reform”he continued, promising that the State “will provide a financial guarantee to local authorities”. Mr. Vigier promises ” a consensus “but the political debate promises to be tense. “We can ask the question of the relevance of the tax, there are situations of unfairnessdefends Catherine Conconne, senator (socialist, environmentalist and republican group) from Martinique. We need to stop saying what we don’t want, the time has come to say what we want. »

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