Despite recently signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with hoteliers to guarantee the purchase of local products, the Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul is still demanding tighter controls for hotels.
Speaking in the House of Assembly this evening, the Government MP expressed concern that some properties may attempt to shift the goal post by setting new standards for goods produced in Barbados in a bid to continue importing.
He said authorities needed to be extremely cautious that hoteliers did not make any attempt to violate the terms set for accessing the concessions.
“We have to ensure that before one concession is granted in this country that every attempt be made to ensure that the products imported duty free for the hotels go to the hotel for which [they are] imported and the rooms for which [they are] consigned. We have to ensure that Barbados cannot be a place in which some feel they can use all kind of tricks and nice sayings to get what they want at the expense of the people,” Paul said.
He was at the time debating amendments to the Tourism Development Act.
The St Michael West Central MP also used the opportunity to chastise St George South MP Dwight Sutherland for chiding Government over its warnings to hoteliers about benchmarks for securing concessions.
In a direct response to Minister of Industry Donville Inniss’ warning that hoteliers would be watched carefully to ensure they used the concessions effectively, Sutherland said: “Don’t be making those statements and what I term a threat to the hoteliers in the country. Let them receive the concessions, sit with them and show them the way out of this rut that you all have created in this country. Give them a chance.”
Paul insisted there was nothing wrong with Inniss letting hoteliers know they would be held to account.
“What threat is it? How can you view what I would call a benchmark of achievement a threat?” he questioned in an apparent response to Sutherland.
“We can no longer continue to pretend that we can continue to give concessions in this country without expecting that those to whom we give these concessions . . . give something in return.”
“The success of what we are doing now will be measured by the extent to which local hoteliers – and all of them are willing – ensure that the benefits that they receive are spread throughout the population of this country and through the agriculture and manufacturing sectors,” Paul said.
He had represented the BAS during the signing of an MOU earlier this month with Minister of Industry Donville Inniss, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association and the Intimate Hotels of Barbados.