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VAT choking tents

John Sealy

VAT choking tents

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VAT ATTACK. That is how the Barbados Association of Tent  Managers (BATMAN) is describing Government’s failure to grant an ease on the Value Added Tax which now stands at 17.5 per cent. 
“We were assured last year by the then Minister of Culture [Steve Blackett] that a structure would be put in place to ease the tents from VAT [when it was 15 per cent],” said BATMAN president Sinclair Gittens.
But far from easing the tents, according to Gittens, VAT had gone up 17.5 per cent, adding that from the time that tax was introduced “the admission fees for tents have not risen, which means that they have been absorbing the costs”. 
He said tents were scheduled to open by mid-June.
“We wrote the Minister of Culture last year and we sent off a letter to the Prime Minister late last year requesting a meeting,” Gittens said.“The Minister of Culture could ask for a waiver but it does not mean the Minister of Finance has to give it,” said Gittens, adding that the only way BATMAN and Government could reach an agreement was if they met. 
Gittens said the group met with then Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Owen Arthur in 2007 and he agreed the VAT was burdensome to the tents and suggested that he did not want to interfere with the VAT regarding the tents “because other interest groups would want to put a case for a VAT reduction”.
“What he suggested [was] that as a collective [we should] send in the amount of VAT we have paid for the season and he would reimburse the amount.
The Government changed in 2008 and it was never honoured,” said Gittens.
“But you know when Government changes there is nothing to bind the next Government  unless it is law.” 
Gittens said the reduction of the subventions to the tents did not help their economic status either.  
“On one hand, you are reducing the subvention and with the other you are not doing anything about the VAT. You are tightening the noose around the tents’ neck,” Gittens said.