Asian Raspberry Pi

English: Extract from Raspberry Pi board at Tr...
Raspberry Pi - almost actual size. Image via Wikipedia

For those not aware, Raspberry Pi is an initiative to supply incredibly low-cost, tiny little computers for school children to use. They retail at $25 for a standalone model and $35 for one with a network port soldered on. They’re also being distributed by a non-profit charity. A wonderful idea and I’ll be buying one once they go into full production.

Even better – from a pride point of view – is that it’s a British company doing this. The aim was to make it as British as possible including the manufacture. Sadly, this hasn’t been possible.

To keep the price point low, the actual building of the board has had to be done in the Far East. Partly this is down to manufacturing costs and availability of plants wherein the work could be done. What really stinks, though, is that even the closest British plants in price ended up being non-viable due to a ridiculous policy on import duty.

You see, if you have something like this manufactured abroad and imported in then the finished product incurs zero tax. However, if you import in the individual components these themselves do attract duty. Hence importing the bits to have the system built in the UK is more expensive than paying a factory in China (or wherever) to build them and then just shipping in the finished products.

And we wonder why we have no sizeable electronics industry in this country any more.

Full marks to the Raspberry Pi people for their openness and honesty. Minus several million to the idiots at the Inland Revenue for a somewhat inexplicable policy.

[BBC article which prompted this post]

UPDATE: Someone’s started a government-targeted e-petition regarding the issue.

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