It was all over the news here that solar energy systems brought into Haiti would have no tax. Someone offered to donate a solar energy system for GLA and the container was sent. Once it got to Haiti, the problems began. First the customs agent said we had car batteries in the container. Now the batteries are huge and definitely are not car batteries! The agent did not know what he was looking at, so we took him a print out of the system with all of the information, and we got a bill for $23,900 USD! We about had a heart attack! The Haitian President is trying to encourage people to use more solar and saving some of Haiti’s resources, but we have never had a bill like that for a container!
Ernst, who does all of the work for our containers, tried to explain to Customs what the system does. He was getting nowhere. So I (Dixie) decided to go to Customs and we had an appointment to meet the new Minister over all of Customs and he listened to our story and he agreed that this was a lot of money. He did explain to us that the President did not say that there would be “no” taxes for the solar energy system, we would still need to pay some of the taxes associated with bringing in a container. Ernst and I both explained the the minister that this was not clear when the president was telling the newspapers and radios that he wanted to encourage the use of solar and the tax for the systems would be eliminated. He said that we were not the first people to bring in systems like this and and then we received a big bill. So the Minister sent us to the Director of Customs and we met with him and his team and they explained after looking at our bill and then the information on the system that we were being charged an enormous amount for “car batteries” not solar batteries! They took of $10,000 USD while we were sitting there talking to them. One of the group, a woman, knew exactly what our system was and the batteries that came with the system. She said we would not pay the customs’ tax on the system but that there were other taxes that we must pay and it came to almost $14,000 USD!
We were not planning on this amount of taxes. We had a donor who gave us money for the system and he paid the cost of the system. We did not have enough left to pay the $14,000 plus $2500 to deliver it to the orphanage.
We need $16,500 USD to get the container out of customs. It has been sitting there for several weeks and each day we must pay a penalty. We are trying to pay the taxes so that we can get the container brought up to Fort Jacques and set in place.
Can you help us? Would you please consider giving a donation to help us get it out of customs soon? We are so afraid that if we don’t get it out soon that the shipping company or Haitian Customs will take it for unpaid taxes.