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WE SAY SO: VAT still on the agenda


WE SAY SO: VAT still on the agenda

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THE BURDENSOME Value Added Tax (VAT) has been a serious challenge for tent managers, bandleaders and other Crop-Over stakeholders for several years.
With the recession, and the stringent measures people were forced to implement, the cry was louder last year than in previous years. Sponsorship was not as forthcoming, and there were predictions that tents in particular would fall by the wayside.
Things were made even harder because of the discontinuation of the customary Government subvention, which was replaced by a much reduced participation fee. The tents that started managed to keep their doors open for a period, but it is left to be seen how they fare this year and if there will be any casualties.
Several, including some former cultural administrators and some in the fraternity, would see it as a blessing in disguise, if there were casualties, because they have long argued there are too many tents in Barbados.
Things are still very much in the preparation stage, with stakeholder meetings concluding yesterday. New chairman of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF), Monique Taitt, will be pleased to note that the tent managers, whom we expected to have much to say, have conformed to the NCF’s wishes. There was no gag order there, but I could not get much out of my usual sources from that particular meeting.
From what I have gathered though, the VAT issue was one of the major matters brought to the table. In the past stakeholders have been asking for a waiver. Then last year it was suggested that the Crop-Over players be asked to pay the same percentage rate as the tourism sector people, who benefit significantly from the festival.
They were paying ten per cent at the time, compared to the 15 per cent required of the Crop-Over people. VAT was increased by 2.5 per cent since then.
What I find interesting is that even though Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, who was not present at the meeting, knew that the issue of VAT would surface, there was reportedly nothing from a ministerial perspective brought to the table. In fact, my understanding is that it was strictly a note-taking exercise, where Taitt heard the concerns of the managers.
The concern with VAT, in particular, is no different from previous years, and one hopes this will not turn out to be another talk shop.
Stakeholders are faced with the interesting scenario of having a new chairman and new minister to work with this year, but that should hopefully have little impact on how the issues are dealt with, or the administration of the festival. It is after all, bigger than any individual.
The faces may have changed but it should not affect continuity, nor appear like one party is trying to erase the work or promises of the other. It is the same team, right?
Former Minister of Culture Steve Blackett went on record last year as saying that he was prepared to make a case with then Minister of Finance David Thompson on the VAT issue. Neither of the two is currently in those positions, but one would assume that the notes and recommendations from the previous team are still on file in the ministry.
He had also made definitive statements on the removal of clash from Soca Royale, and the return of the Pic-O-De-Crop Semi-Finals and the Junior Monarch Finals to the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.
It would serve the new team in good stead if they would take the time to go through them even if only to have a reasonable and sensible response when any changes are queried by astute members of the Press.
Carnival gone to the HypaDawg
Good God!
With all this talk about gag order, and the National Cultural Foundation, and the new chairman and Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley, I did not remember to say congratulations to the Chihuahua Business Man!
It’s almost time for Crop-Over once again, but that song Guh Down is still infectious and the remix with Machel too sweet! It is no wonder then that he is reportedly doing so well in Trinidad and Tobago, which we all know is not a traditional stomping ground for him. From all reports Guh Down is mashing up de place and he is booked for several of the major Carnival shows.
Those of us who believe in divine order would view this as his time, and I certainly hope that all things continue to work for him.
Ri-Ri – it’s a wrap!
One has to hand it to rude girl Rihanna! She certainly knows how to set tongues wagging and whips cracking!
I still have not got past the YouTube restrictions placed on the controversial S&M video, but a colleague hooked me up.
At the risk of attracting unwanted criticism, I really don’t see what all the hoo-hah is about. My intention is not to dismiss or trivialize the concerns expressed by any party, but maybe I’m shockproof as far as our Grammy Award-winning singing sensation is concerned.
I prepared myself for anything when she declared herself to be a rude girl and told the world she was a good girl gone bad. A name or title says quite a bit!
And lest we forget, she did say her thing for 2011 would be “sex”. If nothing else, Rihanna has shown she is a woman of her word thus far.
Because it is invariably referenced when our rude girl attracts negative attention, the powers that be might want to decide what mirror image they want their cultural ambassador to project, and act accordingly. It might also be a good time for officials in the Ministry of Culture to say exactly what the designation of cultural ambassador entails.
Of all the images in the video, the one with her in what appears to be newsprint with Barbados scrawled across her chest lingers with me. Could she be saying that she is doing it for the media, the media has her doing it, a bit of both? What?  
How I would love to be in a criticism, aesthetics, semiotics class when and if S&M were to be discussed!