The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is working with officials of the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) and the Customs & Excise Department in a bid to resolve challenges its members have been facing in accessing Tourism Development Act (TDA) allowances and food and beverage concessions.
In this regard, representatives of the BHTA, including Chairman Rosenna Myers, recently meet with the BRA Revenue Commissioner Margaret Sivers, Comptroller of Customs Annette Weekes and other officials for the first in a series of working group sessions.
Myers described the meeting as “very productive”, even though she acknowledged that there were still a number of issues for her members in accessing the concessions, which were granted over two years ago.
“We are aware that it will take a few of these sessions to get us where we want to be. That does not mean that we will not continue fighting on the front that says this process is too tedious and that we need to look to see if there are other ways that it can be done. Our fight is to get the system working,” she said.
“The concerns were put on the table. We looked at the processes, broke down the steps so we could see where the issues are, looked at the interpretation of some aspects of the Act and then we looked at possible solutions; what can be done differently and better and approaches going forward were jointly agreed on.”
While acknowledging that there were challenges, Sivers warned, “there are many new items coming onto the market that we have to be extra vigilant about.
“Sometimes matters take long to be resolved and it may seem as though trade is not being facilitated or that we are making it difficult for the industry but, while facilitating the industry we also have to bear in mind that there are also a lot of other agreements to be considered.
“We are always open for discussion and we encourage you to get to know our staff. That is why we have a number of them here today,” the BRA commissioner added.
The session covered issues related to Value Added Tax (VAT), including refunds and the application process for a reduction of VAT to 7.5 per cent. It also looked at legislation and the process of issuing land tax rebates and clearance certificates.
While giving an overview of her department and its responsibilities, Weekes assured that the role of Customs was to facilitate and not frustrate trade.
“It may seem so at times, but that is not our aim, our purpose or our goal. We are partners, so I urge and implore you to let us do what we can to work together,” the Acting Comptroller of Customs said.