Director of FAS Entertainment, Al Gilkes, is appealing to Government to give promoters a Value Added Tax (VAT) break.
Speaking at the launch of the annual Reggae Festival at Kensington Oval last night, the promoter of one of the biggest festivals outside of Crop Over pleaded with the Government to ease them in three areas, including a reduction in the 17.5 per cent VAT, the withholding tax of 25 per cent, and a reduction in taxes on airline tickets for regional travel. “When we bring an overseas act, we have to pay a withholding tax of 25 per cent. . . there’re also taxes on each airline ticket and the taxes on each are huge and, this year, the line up has over 18 Jamaican acts.
“Place the taxes on international tickets but give us an ease for the regional,” Gilkes added.
With regard to the admission ticket prices, Gilkes noted that they had been the same since 2008 but said he did not know how much longer that would remain if they did not get some help.
“Levels for ticket prices have been the same since 2008. We have maintained that throughout. We do not worry too much about those things but we do not know how much longer we can put up with it due to the economic costs . . ,” said Gilkes.
He added: “Technical costs have increased and we have absorbed the price of tickets for patrons. Asking for a reduction of the VAT to ten per cent is fair enough. What people don’t know is that we pay VAT on each ticket and now even on complimentary tickets.”
The veteran entertainment promoter further called on the private sector to ‘perform a miracle’, as they did with the Bushy Park motor racing circuit, and come up with an entertainment venue to be used for cultural activities.
However, Gilkes revealed that this year, the show, which is now in its 11th year, had received the largest amount of sponsorship in its history. But he noted that all the sponsorship did not pan out in terms of cash but in product, namely in airtime and print advertising.
CEO of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) Cranston Browne, in addressing the audience, agreed with the former chairman of the NCF, and called for an ease and also for more duty free concessions for the promoters.
“ . . . These duty free concessions would alleviate many of the challenges. I would like to see the day when it is easier to host events in Barbados. You cannot have a thriving tourism industry without a thriving entertainment industry so we definitely need a little ease,” Browne said.
The Reggae Festival comes off from April 19-26th.