Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley says he is still waiting on promoters to put their concerns in writing to him, surrounding Government’s 2014 decision to charge 17.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on complimentary tickets.
“I would have met with several of the promoters before and I am very familiar with the issues that they have,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY Friday afternoon, pointing out that while “some of their issues are quite legitimate we have actually moved the discussion to the point where we are waiting on the promoters to make a comprehensive presentation of what their issues are.
“I believe that they are supposed to be forming themselves into an association and the Ministry of Finance, working along with the Ministry of Culture, is awaiting the submission of their comprehensive proposals,” the minister of culture.
However, while Lashley believes the matter should be the subject of a more detailed discussion, the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) has been refusing to budge on its stipulation that “all complimentary items such as tickets and costumes, must be taxed at the standard rate of 17.5 per cent VAT”.
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is also on record as saying that there was no such thing as a complimentary ticket in the VAT law. He has therefore suggested that the onus is on promoters to control the distribution of all event tickets to ensure that they were not left holding the bag.
But the President of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM) Chetwyn Stewart has described the status quo as untenable. He told Barbados TODAY Thursday the tax had forced some promoters out of business, while others had been experiencing heavy losses.
Stewart further contended that other industries had been receiving concessions from Government and all the entertainment fraternity wanted was to be treated fairly.
“The same way you can give hotels and other people who bring in foreign exchange or bring in people, you . . . give them reduction, the same way you should be looking at promoters and trying to work with us so that we make this thing successful,” Stewart pleaded.