Australian retailers have often said GST is part of the reason they cannot sell products for the same low prices consumers can find online from overseas.
The country’s current GST threshold on overseas purchases means anything that costs less than $1000 does not have the tax slapped onto its price.
Speaking at an industry event in Sydney yesterday, two of Australia’s supermarket bosses said they don’t think the threshold needs to be lowered to $20 to help Australian retailers compete, a push being made by many of their discretionary peers.
“It should be a free market, we should allow competition to prevail,” said Coles managing director Ian McLeod.
“It stimulates productivity, it stimulates efficiency and it stimulates lower prices. That needs to be the focus in this.”
His views were echoed by Woolworths Supermarkets managing director Tjeerd Jegen. Both were speaking at Australian National Retailers Association event which renewed the industry group’s calls to lower the threshold.
“We should compete with a compelling offer and in a time when customers are really doing it tough, I don’t think retailers should ask for higher taxes,” he said.
“Our view is we should keep the threshold where it is, but we respect ANRA’s views.”
At the event yesterday McLeod admitted supermarkets were less affected by the rule, as people were unlikely to try and save a small amount by purchasing food products in large amounts online.
Last month ANRA chairman John Gillam, also the boss of Wesfarmers-owned Bunnings Warehouse and Officeworks, wrote to Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling for the threshold to be lowered to $20 for online purchases from foreign suppliers.
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