Govt official stoutly defends Sandals concessions

As officials of the Butch Stewart-led Sandals Resorts International gear up to start construction of their Beaches property here, Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss is firmly defending the sweep of concessions given to the company back in 2013.

Making his contribution to the debate on the Land Tax Amendment Bill in Parliament on Tuesday, Inniss argued that incentives were necessary for hoteliers to have low operations costs.

“I have been hearing, long before I came into politics, that one of the challenges related to the hotel sector has been the cost of operations and some overheads, such as the land tax that is payable,” he said, adding that just as Government could not afford to compromise on the regulation and standards of the sector, so too it could not compromise on incentives.

His comments follow Stewart’s revelation last week that an estimated 1,800 new permanent jobs and an investment of US$400 million would come to Barbados with completion of the Beaches Resort.

Speaking to reporters at the newly-opened Sandals Barbados Royal Resort at Dover, Christ Church, which is one of two luxury properties currently operated by Sandals here, Stewart added that the Beaches, which will replace the existing Almond Resort in St Peter, was expected to create about 2,000 jobs during its construction, which he said should officially get off the ground by September this year.

In light of those promises, Inniss has stoutly defended the Sandals concessions, which included a 25-year tax break. In fact, he said that just like concessions granted to the rest of the sector, they were necessary in order to drive down operation costs and create jobs.

“Without this . . .  they [hotels] would find that they would have to increase their rates or find other ways to reduce costs, whether in labour or whatever, which then places the entity in a position where it can compromise on service,” Inniss said.

“There is a lot of hullabaloo about concessions granted to Sandals and I am being very candid on this matter. It may not please everybody. I hear the Opposition people always talks about Sandals concessions and what not . . .  . The simple reality about it is that perhaps it is a bigger cost when you do not grant incentives, to when you grant them.

“If you don’t grant them you may find that you may not get the level of investment necessary to grow out an economy, whether it is domestic investment or foreign direct investment. That is why, on a matter of principle, I stood firmly in support of the incentives granted to the Sandals group, and we have seen the benefits,” he said.

Inniss pointed out that the Sandals chain, which recently completed its second property here, was employing a significant number of Barbadians.

He said while some may argue that the concessions granted to the rest of the sector were not enough, “the reality about it is that when you look at the incentives granted to restaurants and those properties with restaurants onsite that certainly ought to make a difference in the cost of the product that you are offering at some of these facilities”.

In order to attract the renowned Jamaican hotel chain here, the Freundel Stuart administration offered a 25-year tax holiday that included waiver on all imported duties, taxes, impost and levies on capital goods, such as building materials as well as food and beverages.

The controversial deal also included waiver on duties on the importation of motor vehicles and personal and household effects for senior hotel staff and non-Barbadian workers.

When the tax holiday period is over, Sandals will only be required to pay half the “applicable rates and taxes prevailing” for another 15 years.

26 Responses to Govt official stoutly defends Sandals concessions

  1. Alex Alleyne January 17, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Will say anything for a “plate of food and a big mout drink”.

  2. Heather Cole
    Heather Cole January 18, 2018 at 12:30 am

    So much to say to justify their indifference to local hoteliers but NOT a word about the sewage catastrophe on the South Coast. If the stink is not resolved and the Tourist Industry flunks not even Butch will survive.

  3. meakai January 18, 2018 at 1:24 am

    You ain’t hear?
    If it comes to that, Butch can import fresh air duty free.

  4. Alwin Ellis
    Alwin Ellis January 18, 2018 at 5:28 am

    Yuh know once he defend it So strong he got something out Of it

  5. Richard Braithwaite
    Richard Braithwaite January 18, 2018 at 5:48 am

    Concessions concessions concessions ,
    25 year tax breaks … Waiver importation tax
    this list goes on….?
    Does that go for the average ,
    private business holders …employing
    the local citizens …?
    I smell a large rat here.? Does the Butch
    whatever his name is, have these self serving politicians in his back pocket ?
    What’s in it, for the citizens of Barbados who
    unfortunately being ” TAXED ” to high hell
    at the moment ..
    If the deal goes through ..Sandals on a win win situation …with very little tax revenue
    helping the government’s disappearing tax revenues …! What a joke…!

    • Prince Shepherd
      Prince Shepherd January 18, 2018 at 8:20 am

      He is de same wun that strongly advocates for ppl at the bottom to pay for social services while giving ah pass to the the wealthy who can pay

    • Richard Braithwaite
      Richard Braithwaite January 18, 2018 at 8:27 am

      Yes you so right …when I saw his comments ,
      I was so angry ..!
      This kind of nonsense , sponsored by government …..
      is helping to make the poverty gap,
      get bigger …..he wants tax cuts , while the average
      hard working citizen is Taxed to heaven and back..!
      Point well made…..Prince Shephard ….

  6. Sheron Inniss January 18, 2018 at 6:27 am

    Thanks for the morning laugh family.

  7. Freeagent January 18, 2018 at 7:29 am

    While we welcome the hotels, jobs etc., the concessions are excessive. Let your conscience be your guide.

  8. Sean R Gittens
    Sean R Gittens January 18, 2018 at 8:06 am

    This minister talking alot though…every way I turn in de media….

  9. Janette Reifer
    Janette Reifer January 18, 2018 at 8:09 am

    Let election come.

  10. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn January 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

    They smart. They starting it before the government change. That deal could reverse like how Trump reversing every thing Obama put in place.

  11. Jerry January 18, 2018 at 8:19 am

    To enjoy all of the freeness bajan have been receiving and expecting to continue now are in jeopardy.Also the threat of devaluation is a possibility. Bajans have 9.1 Billion in the Banks and will not invest in their own country and create jobs for their own people. Sandals when Beaches is completed will have invested nearly 1 billion US in our Country and he is a Jamaican . Our People will have work for ever.Our Children and Grandchildren will have work at Sandals. Once built it cannot be removed. We need at least 10 more like Sandals to maintain our social programs , freeness and threat of devaluation. We should be awarding Butch Stuart our highest Medal for trying to save us from ourselves.

  12. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner January 18, 2018 at 8:25 am

    The more this clown talks the more sewage flows.

  13. ks January 18, 2018 at 9:09 am

    Listen up………Inniss ‘logic’ make ’nuff sense to him!!!

    Give Butch all the concessions he want ………..>> he can then hire ’nuff Bajans, pay their wages, $$ in their pockets, everyone happy …….>> unemployment drop …… more VAT, Income Tax, NRSL, etc. now flowing to Government …….>> Sinckler & Inniss now got more $$$ to waste & enjoy…….

    but wait….step back & look at the big picture ……

    (1) Butch only got to pay wages, all other operating expenses come into island ‘free’, all-inclusive set-up so guests pay in foreign currency outside, none come into island ===>> Butch happy as a pig in mud!!

    (2) $$ in people pocket, all ‘dem people working, Government collecting (squeezing) more $$$ ===>> Sinckler & Inniss now confident ’bout re-election

    (3) Final analysis….. working-class paying for it all!!!

  14. harry turnover January 18, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Donville Inniss…there is the 2 %,the 5% and the 10%.You think people FOOLISH or wha ?
    Way back,a well known man known for telling the TRUTH mek noise wid a well known PM..said he WANTED a MINISTRY when he didn’t get one ..jack…he eventually got something…can’t remember if it was a Ministry though.

  15. frank January 18, 2018 at 10:05 am

    Has anyone here ever gone to a store and took advantage of a sale they were having? 20% off, 30% off?
    That is a CONCESSION. It is a concession on the price, because the owner of the store wants to attract business. And did any of you refuse the discount and offer to pay the full price? I’m sure not.
    It is a simple way of looking at it, but sometimes we must revert to simplicity to see the truth of things.
    The same was the owner of a clothing store competes with hundreds of other stores, the same way the Caribbean competes with hundreds of other destinations (and just now Cuba as well) for investment.
    If those in charge of the reins of the economy find that prices are cheaper elsewhere (as they are in Mexico) then sometimes you need to have a sale to attract buyers. So concessions if not the issue.
    The issue is how the concessions are managed. You must know clearly what you are giving away, and what you will get in return. This is a short term sacrifice for long term gain. I think once there is a clear policy on concessions then they are a very useful tool in attracting investment.
    Unfortunately the word ‘concession’ is being abused too often for political gain. We need to make a greater effort to understand the dynamics of what is entailed, and that it is implemented properly.

  16. D. Clarke January 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Jerry, I totally Agree with you, All the people that against the consessions are the one gaining from the freeness. They don’t understand what having a name like Sandals do for Barbados. Barbados will profit more from having hotels with brand names, it might not look like that but people book vacations in place they feel comfortable and with brand names that are familiar, and if he is willing to invest and open more hotels in Barbados he must know the benefit for his chain. Once the consession don’t go against bajans being hired. I believe in each of his properties they are bajans in managment positions. What needs to be done is that the government should stop lying to people and let them know that the things they enjoy for free is only done in Barbados and no other caribbean island. We have so many socail services not even a rich country like america has that many. And Barbados does not have one natural resource.

  17. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce January 18, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Donna also had a tax concession for that Birthday New Years Bash that’s why he would defend Sandals. Palms well greased.

  18. Greengiant January 18, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    We need to have a critical look at the concessions given by the
    B L P administration to foreign entities within all sectors setting up businesses while they were in government.

    A year in politics is a very long day, so is a term in office. Sometimes when I listen to the words coming from the mouths of oppositions members I wonder if they were part of the last cabinet under Arthur. That’s why I have much respect for
    Mr. Payne, he’s silent when he knows he needs to be silent, and selects his battles carefully.

    We only have a few smart politicians in this country, a smart one knows how, when and where to pick a fight. The silly ones doesn’t know when, where or even with whom to pick a fight, because someone always picks a fight for them. Eric Fly (the late) would have been the perfect promoter for some of these unskilled boxers who are playing MP’s.

  19. Lauretta Smith
    Lauretta Smith January 18, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Minister of talk bare talk

  20. Alex Alleyne January 18, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    Mr. Minister , while you are at it , ask Butch what happen to DELTA flight direct to Barbados ??????????????????????????.

  21. fedup January 18, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    Man trying tuh be dee Leader of dee Opposition.

  22. old enough January 18, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    No Mr. Minister, without the concessions Butch Stewart would have never, ever set up shop in Barbados, so let’s get that one straight.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *