Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey is in full support of Government’s decision not to bow to the demands of Sandals Resorts International (SRI).
Work on the $800 million Beaches property in Heywood’s, St Peter has ground to a halt, as Government and STI have failed to reach agreement on the concessions that had been offered to the hotel chain by the former administration.
At the root of the deadlock is a claim by Government that late last year Sandals asked for assurances that its original deal, signed with the former Freundel Stuart administration in 2013, would not be changed by any future Government.
However, Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds made it clear that no such concession would be granted.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday as he opened debate on the Shipping Incentives (Amendment) Bill, Humphrey, in clear reference to that matter, said he was in total agreement with Government.
“There has been some conversation around concessions and how much concessions people want and how much they should receive. I understand the need to have concessions but we have to be careful because you can’t give away everything. My mother used to tell me that if you give away all you got you have to buy all that you want,” he said.
“We know that we can’t give away all that we have, but we offer a balance in terms of the concessions that we offer to invite people to do business, but not in a way that will hurt this country. And that is why I am very proud of the stance that the Government has taken – the one that the Minister of Tourism has also taken in relation to how we engage.
“Yes, we want your business, but at the same time it cannot be at the cost of ordinary Barbadians and I am very proud of the stance we have taken in relation to that other matter,” he added.
In relation to the Bill, Humphrey said the amendments would reduce the length of time for carrying forward losses for the purpose of the assessment of income tax – from nine years to seven years – and for reducing the rate applicable to the deductions that can be claimed in respect to the income tax – from 150 per cent to 100 per cent.
Humphrey said the “small” amendments would not affect Barbados’ ability to offer an attractive tourism and shipping sector.
“Considering that this Bill first came in 1982 under a [Barbados] Labour Party Government, we are still keeping faith with that which the Labour Party had always intended, which is to allow us to open up our tourism sector to invite a diversified tourism product and to be offering cutting edge services in the tourism sphere,” he said.