Don’t be fooled!
BAS head warns that hotel concessions are not yet ready
The Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul has labelled as both “premature and unfortunate” suggestions by the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) that tax-free concessions should be available for properties by January 2 next year.
BHTA President Sunil Chatrani made the announcement last week at the association’s fourth quarterly general meeting, where he also disclosed that a “pilot test” would be conducted at two hotel properties and a distributor.
However, while disclosing that certain systems had not yet been put in place, Paul, who is also a Government backbencher, gave a strong warning that he would not sit on the sidelines while farmers were shortchanged.
“I don’t think they (hoteliers) should fool themselves or the public either because there are still a lot of things to put in place before those concessions can be granted,” he contended.
“I’ve told the farmers that I intend to see that those things [are] done because in no way will I be part of anything that shortchanges our local farming community at all. So we have to do due diligence to ensure that what should be done by those hoteliers . . . [are done].
“I am not going to sit down and allow any shortcuts in implementing these concessions,” he stressed.
The CEO cautioned that the country should not rush to implement the initiative, suggesting that such an approach could backfire.
He was also adamant that no concession should be granted at the expense of the agricultural sector.
“We know there is at least one body that is supposed to be put in place in which the BAS has agreed to participate. I know the BHTA has agreed to participate in it and also, too, the BMA (Barbados Manufacturers Association) has agreed to participate.
“That committee, as far a I am aware has not yet met and that is why I’m saying that the statement is really premature,” the BAS boss said.
“I think that until that committee has met and agreed to certain things, I don’t see how it is likely that you can proceed to grant the concessions to certain hoteliers.”
He disclosed that farmers were making their own preparations by giving serious consideration to a scheduling system that would allow them to better supply the market.
“One of the things that we are looking at is [the introduction] of a planting forecasting system within the industry in which we could better forecast the availability of crops within Barbados at this point in time. That, we believe, is extremely essential,” Paul added.