Finance minister says hotels can’t get concessions yet
Hoteliers will now have to wait more than a month longer to get concessions they were assured they would have received since last week.
Barbados TODAY understands that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has backtracked on making the tax breaks, similar to those given to Jamaican hotel chain Sandals Resorts, available this month.
At the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association’s third quarterly general meeting on September 10, Sinckler said that although the proposed changes to the Tourism Development Act – under which the concessions were to be granted – would not come into legal force until next month, the appropriate letters would be issued under Section 67 B of the Income Tax Act so the concessions could take effect the following week.
However, the BHTA’s executive vice president Sue Springer confirmed to Barbados TODAY this evening that after waiting all last week, representatives of the association met with Sinckler this week to discuss the promised relief and he delivered the bad news.
“We have been told that the amendments to the Tourism Development Act must [first] be laid in Parliament and we know that Parliament is now on recess until October 21,” she said.
“After that, it has to be gazetted, so we are talking about November 1 for us to have access to the concessions.”
While the BHTA has been patient thus far, Springer warned that if the relief was not forthcoming by then, BHTA’s response would not be a pleasant one.
Sinckler had promised at the BHTA meeting that he would have met with the association and officials from his ministry and other departments to ensure all administrative arrangements were put in place to fully execute the concessions.
The hoteliers have been banking on the concessions, saying that without the relief they would be uncompetitive.
And the BHTA had indicated, shortly after Sinckler’s announcement, that a number of local hotel operators have already budgeted to spend more than $40 million in refurbishments to further enhance their offerings.
When they eventually get the tax breaks, hoteliers will have to meet several conditions in order to keep them.
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