The Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS) has issued a statement to clarify the position on benefits for the rum-producing territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands being agreed as part of the economic rescue package agreed last week by US authorities.

DISCUS, which represents spirits companies in the US, said late last week that there was confusion over the provisions which it said were not tax breaks for rum makers, as had been reported in the press and claimed on Capitol Hill.

DISCUS said the deal was "fundamentally a revenue sharing arrangement between the US government and the governments of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which Congress has voted to extend repeatedly over the last 20 years". Under this provision, the US government rebates to the governments of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands most of the Federal Excise Tax collected on rum imported into the US, DISCUS stated.

"Essentially, this longstanding policy allows the governments of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to keep the taxes on the rum produced there. It is not a tax break for rum companies," said DISCUS vice president Mark Gorman.