If Opposition Member of Parliament for St Michael South East Santia Bradshaw had her way it would not be ‘one rule for the Jews and another for the Persians’ in terms of access to tax exemptions and duty free concessions under the Cultural Industries and Development Act.
Speaking in the House of Assembly this afternoon on a resolution for the vesting of land at Pinfold Street to facilitate restoration of the Jewish synagogue, Bradshaw called for a level playing field, saying even though she supported the measure, she was still not satisfied that there was equal access for all under the legislation.
She lamented that many applications for funding were still languishing before the Cultural Industries Development Board, while suggesting that Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler should graciously facilitate the cultural Industries’ entrepreneurs in the same way he was facilitating the Jewish community.
“It is all well and good to promote cultural heritage to encourage persons who have been involved in this particular project to continue to do projects of this nature,” Bradshaw told members of the Lower House of Parliament.
However, Bradshaw, an entertainment lawyer, lamented that many of those who represent Barbados on a daily basis were still not able to make an income in the cultural industries.
In response, Sinckler said it was simply wrong for the Opposition to suggest that Government had passed this piece of legislation and forgotten “all of these people and are not assisting them”. In fact, he said it was downright untrue.
However, he admitted to being overwhelmed with applications for concessions.
“There is no concession factory in the Ministry of Finance. We have a revenue section to deal with concessions, a meagre staff of about five persons and that’s the standard number . . . I often make the point that those five persons have to handle every application that comes in for a waiver or concessions. From the smallest project, like the taxi man, right up to the biggest project like Sam Lord’s or Sandals, you have the same number of persons,” Sinckler said.
“If you take this case for example, the persons who were putting together this wonderful restoration applied to the ministry and we realized that given the challenges of the Cultural Industries Act in terms of getting some of the processes through, we indicated to them that they should apply to the Ministry of Finance . . . so that we could facilitate in a speedier fashion and that is not just for them.
“We have done it for other industry practitioners, who we know can be accommodated under cultural industries, but because of challenges, we have said apply directly to the Ministry of Finance. So to make the point that we have passed this piece of legislation and forgot all of these people and are not assisting them, is not true,” Sinckler stressed.