VAT discount may come
BANDLEADERS AND TENT MANAGERS can get some much needed relief from Value Added Tax (VAT), but it will not be in time for Crop-Over 2010.Minister of Community Development and Culture Steve Blackett said he had heard the pleas and all the suggestions from his constituents in the cultural industries, and would be making representation to the Minister of Finance on their behalf.Stakeholders have been crying out about the mandatory 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) and have made several calls for it to be waived.They say the VAT is compounding the difficulties caused by the economic downturn, lack of sponsorship and the removal of a subvention, which has been replaced by a participation fee.Speaking to the WEEKEND NATION at the launch of the Visual Arts Festival last Wednesday evening, Blackett said: “I’m always willing to listen to thoughts and suggestions of our stakeholders. Certainly this is a suggestion that falls outside of my purview, as the Minister of Culture . . . . “But I want to warn that in these strict economic times, that it is certainly a suggestion that I do not believe will be given consideration at this time, because we are in a tight fiscal position. “Our deficit is growing and therefore any suggestions that they give on the revenue side will have serious repercussions for our deficit position,” he said.“I will make representation when the time comes on their behalf . . . . Certainly it cannot be for this Crop-Over. This Crop-Over is almost at its end, so it will have to be a consideration for future Crop-Overs,” Blackett added.When asked if there was a possibility that the subvention could be reinstated, Blackett explained that its removal and the new participation fee had been agreed on by all the stakeholders before the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) took action.He said the NCF had been forced to work with a reduced budget and it had to find ways to produce with less and advised others to do the same.“The tent managers and all other stakeholders have to cut to suit the cloth. We were dealt a severe hand at the National Cultural Foundation. We had severe cutbacks. We cut to suit the cloth. These are not times when money is flowing; there is a downturn in the economy here in Barbados and across the world, therefore you just have to make the adjustments. The tents are well aware of this,” the minister stressed.He said the tents needed to find other avenues to make the undertaking worth their while.“They can collaborate and come together. There are innovative ways and they must use ingenuity,” he suggested.Tony Hoyos of the Celebration Time management team recently made a call for VAT to be halved, bringing culture on even footing with the tourism sector, which he said benefited most from Crop-Over.Two weeks ago a source from the VAT Office said there was a facility in place for people to set up a payment plan, and encouraged people to come and see them if they found themselves in difficulty in order to avoid the various penalties that could accrue.
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