IN THE DARK
BAS caught off guard by start of concessions for hotels
The head of the umbrella body for farmers appears to have been caught off guard by the February 1 date for hoteliers to begin accessing Government concessions.
And chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul is now calling for urgent talks on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed several months ago between his organization, Government, hoteliers and manufacturers to ensure it is strictly adhered to.
“We have not been advised of any arrangement being put in place to allow the concessions to proceed. The release sent out said they can apply. The question is when they apply, what happens,” Paul told Barbados TODAY.
“The BAS board has a meeting this week and I believe that this issue would come up, and I even believe that now we will most likely be writing the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture in respect of ascertaining exactly what the story is in respect of this whole arrangement.”
On the weekend, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) announced it had received correspondence from Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy notifying that hoteliers could now apply for the concessions on consumables not listed on the revised Second schedule of the Tourism Development Act (TDA).
“In order to qualify for the concessions, hotels must be registered with the Ministry of Tourism as a qualified tourism business, as already required for the TDA,” the group explained in a media statement.
“It is a groundbreaking development for the industry and the association and we trust that the implementation of this system will not only bring some relief to the operational costs of our members, but will also allow them to generate more cash flow, which can then be reinvested into their hotels.”
But Paul said he was “a bit surprised” about the manner
in which the arrangement was proceeding.
“There was a special machinery that was supposed to go into place in order to determine the legitimacy of the application and then we had to put things in place to monitor how they are going. I haven’t heard anything like that.
Meantime, the BAS is anticipating increased business for farmers after Sandals Barbados officially opened last week following a US$65 million upgrade.
He said while no contract had been signed, he was confident the renowned regional brand would deliver on its promise.
“We did due diligence and we know for a fact that Sandals has contacted local producers, they have taken sample produce from local producers to determine what the taste profile is like. The BAS has not received an official order from Sandals, but we have supplied them with prices and they’ve promised to get back to us . . . There are other significant agricultural producers which have been contacted by Sandals . . . We have now to contact them to determine what the response is,” Paul added.