Ease us, please!

Burger King pleads for a tax break

Fast food chain Burger King has made a direct appeal to Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss for a break from the whopper of a tax burden imposed on it over a year ago.

However, Inniss would not bite after Ralph Bizzy Williams, the chairman of Burger King Barbados, told the minister last night his New Year’s wish was for a reprieve from the excessive import duties.

Addressing last night’s Williams Industries Inc 2017 awards dinner at the Almond Bay Caterers in Hastings, Christ Church, Williams stopped short of saying that the 82 per cent increase in duties on some of the products that it needs was crippling the local operation of the Florida headquartered American global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants.

Buger King Chairman Ralph ‘Bizzy’ Williams is pleading with Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss (inset) for a tax break.

However, he challenged Inniss “to address us to let us know what we can expect from Government” next year.

“Of course we would like the excessive duty of 102 per cent on the products we have to import for our Burger King restaurants reduced back to 20 per cent and the restoration of the bound rate of duty reinstated on steel imported from extra regional sources,” Williams said.

It was at the beginning of September last year that the duties on some Burger King processed chicken products, including chicken breast, patties and nuggets, which local producers could not supply, rose from 20 per cent to 102 per cent.

At the end of November 2016 General Manager Ryan Walters had told Barbados TODAY that while the company had initially absorbed the additional cost, it could no longer afford to do so since it was taking a huge financial hit as a result of the massive increase.

At the time Walters had declined to say how much the company was losing as a result of the increased duties. However, he said the local franchise holders Restaurant Associates Barbados Ltd were in discussions with local producers in a bid to have the meat processed here to international specifications.

Walters had also reported that the relevant authorities had already been written to requesting a reduction.

Williams last night opted not to go into detail about the development, saying instead that because it is the festive season “we won’t mention those things again” during the event.

“We are here to give thanks for our blessings, and enjoy this evening,” he said.

However, while Inniss said he had heard the calls, he absolved himself of responsibility and chose instead to shift the discussion to the way businesses operate here.

He said over the years Government had been too protectionist in its approach, thereby stifling creativity.

“From my end in Government, and certainly as this is the festive season and we all like to bring good news and cheers, but I am not the Minister of Finance or the Prime Minister. Therefore, I will stick to my narrow corner. I have heard the calls for the reduction of rates of duties on inputs on some products, and the truth of the matter is that we in Barbados have to make a paradigm shift in a lot of the things we do,” Inniss said.

“I am concerned that we have had a so-called industrial development over the last 50 years that has grown by high protectionist measures on the side of Government, and my concern is that high levels of protectionism dampers creativity and innovation. And I believe that the state really needs to unshackle the minds of our people.”

In fact, the minister made his own New Year’s wish – that the high level of taxes here would be reduced.

“As I look towards the future of Barbados it must be one that is not driven by high levels of taxation [and] duties, especially on items that we have to import for the needs of Barbadians. Therefore, you have my assurance that as long as I am here, whether it is up to election or even ten years afterwards, that I will work steadfastly to ensure that we are able to reduce the level of taxation because if we don’t do that we are going to continue to breathe a level of mediocrity in the industry of Barbados,” the minister vowed, while encouraging local enterprises to be more innovative and creative and to “produce a lot more in Barbados to meet the demands of the world”.

Lauding the Williams group of companies as trailblazers in a number of areas, Inniss said like that company others in Barbados should “stop depending on the state for everything”.


19 Responses to Ease us, please!

  1. Saga Boy December 14, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    You should be using more local products. What do you expect? Try and support local argriculture. You should put your money in a business that earns foreign currency instead of using up so much.
    You always complaining. You never are satisfied. No wonder Mike Pemberton used to called you and your brother the never enough brothers.

    • Richard Johnston December 15, 2017 at 8:50 am

      “….which local producers could not supply…”

  2. Richard Braithwaite
    Richard Braithwaite December 15, 2017 at 1:13 am

    Use local produce !

  3. Dick Tracy December 15, 2017 at 1:19 am

    @ Saga Boy

    Did you not read: “which local producers could not supply, rose from 20 per cent to 102 per cent.”

    He’s a businessman, when the price of your Whopper goes up, maybe then you’ll understand.

    Has your road tax improved the roads? Maybe you should be asking the government where all these revenues are going!

  4. Brian Porte
    Brian Porte December 15, 2017 at 1:32 am

    With most of these international franchises, they have certain requirements to maintain their brand/taste. This is why when you go to a kfc in Barbados, the chicken should taste the same as one in Hong Kong or in Port of Spain. To do this they must have local producers that can process the beef or chicken to the international franchise’s requirement. If local manufacturers can’t they have to import.

  5. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn December 15, 2017 at 1:44 am

    The government should ease you because you help support Thompson in 2008 to win the general election.

  6. Alan Winter December 15, 2017 at 6:38 am

    “And I believe that the state really needs to unshackle the minds of our people.”……..Import some up-to-date bloody books, that should help…..

    • Jennifer December 15, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      Do u even have any clue what the consequences of such actions would be?? And what books would you recommend?????

  7. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd December 15, 2017 at 7:11 am


  8. Claire Battershield
    Claire Battershield December 15, 2017 at 7:27 am

    Ease ,why ?

  9. Arthur Collymore
    Arthur Collymore December 15, 2017 at 7:43 am

    This is the problem identified by Gordon Seale recently. The treasury was deprived of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue by granting 25 + 15 yrs of tax concessions to a foreign owned entity. How does duty-free cars to Sandals contribute to the country’s GDP? Yet we have an indigenous Barbadian businessman’s operations crippled by burdensome taxes. We’ve lost our prime lands & now our most profitable businesses to foreign interest. These fields & bill….

  10. Alex Alleyne December 15, 2017 at 7:50 am

    The driving public pay these “exorbitant” prices on road tax, then rip-off by insurance companies and the roadways in BIM still in a mess.
    Even “stew sweet potatoes and flying fish” beat that “over price soybean”.

  11. Richard Braithwaite
    Richard Braithwaite December 15, 2017 at 8:24 am

    What’s wrong….with Bajan produce ???
    Government ….vested interest ….
    People wise up……
    Rise up……!

  12. Michael Turton
    Michael Turton December 15, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Before we criticize Bizzy please have a 360 view of the situation …….. this man is a major private sector employer with over 25 businesses in his portfolio. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you! Keeping our people employed is bigger that a Name.

    • Jennifer December 15, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Michael, you sound real ingrunt. Look at the situation real good and see who really feeding and sucking on who. Gesus Krist.

  13. Joy December 15, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Paragraph 6 of the article clearly states that they were items
    “… which local producers could not supply…

    Read before you comment.

  14. jrsmith December 15, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    Most of the companies in Barbados , seems never to really invest none of the profits which is made from paying bajans low wages , in Barbados , but all the profits goes one way out to the tax avoidance havens………………….
    As for the issue of local produce , something would have to be done , dont know by whom at lease not by the government dont expect anything from them , the issue to stop bajans stealing from our local farmers , though that may not be the only real issue………………….

  15. Belfast December 15, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    It’s a good thing that the awards ceremony was held in Hastings and not a few hundred yards away in Worthing .


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