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WILD COOT: Quo vadimus

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

WILD COOT: Quo vadimus

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Are we so lost that every puss or bruno that comes to Barbados gets a free ride when we welcome them with open arms and minds? Can’t we see the problems that people from over and away have caused in their neck of the woods when they come with bright smiles and bait money?
Take for instance our tourism industry. Has Jamaica flourished under the expansion of the Sandals banner? Why shoot down comrade Loveridge even if you do not like him? I know that he is quite capable of defending himself and does not need me to take up his “firerage”. What I find despicable is the reported reception from the audience that the curt reply to his searching question evoked. Probably he touched on a sore corn familiar to others’ feet – or balance sheet.
The question of how much foreign revenue is kept abroad and not declared is relevant. Don’t ask me how I know. When a hotelier deals with a bank he or she has to bare all.
It is a truism that in many cases we derive peanuts from the bounteous benefits that we bestow on people who come to Barbados. Sandals does not have to answer Mr Loveridge’s question about the remittance of foreign exchange profit gained from room rentals.
If Sandals’ guests/agent or other travel agents pay abroad the all-inclusive charges to spend time in Barbados, then the amount is required in computing the accounting figures of the company; the true cost of running the hotel. Maybe we get the cost of employing local staff, buying a few vegetables and paying utilities (less tax). It would be interesting to know the cost abroad as well, but Sandals is a private concern.
We may be underselling ourselves and opening our country to exploitation. No amount of PR work can gainsay this. However, the question raised is more suited to the Commissioner of Income Tax to ask, even if no tax is collectible for the next umpteen years.
Why has Barbados exempted the company and some employees from all sort of taxation at such a high price and the displeasure of much of the tourism sector? The quid pro quo, if such can be sensibly deduced, is the lure of foreign exchange. Why else? No one is saying that it should repatriate foreign takings but since the ultimate beneficiary is not Barbadian the expectations are questionable.
The tail is wagging the horse.
We tell a hotel in Barbados, let us see your books for confirmation of your trading figures, your profit or loss, so that we can determine your tax obligations. Now tell me how we are going to assess the books of Sandals unless we know how much money a guest pays and how much profit the entity makes, including the composition of foreign exchange which attends the real profit, and how the foreign exchange is disposed.
It may have been an “impertinent” question, probably more suited to the Commissioner of Income Tax to ask, but it was one which was applicable to the entire industry and more so to a hotel which we are touting as our saviour. Why should the answer be obloquy and rudeness? You tell a child that he is impertinent, but telling a big man so is an insult. After our experience with Paradise we should insist that we know what Sandals is really offering. Hence the question.
One only hopes that the refurbishment of Casuarina will entail that all seven proposed restaurants are on Sandals’ premises. To open a restaurant anywhere else and to the general public would be to give a woogla of advantages to Sandals competing with Bajan restaurants.
Surely our bosses can see this. Surely they can see that building bridges for $20 million or more for aircraft to deposit passengers in Barbados at this time is not a priority when we are trying to trim our spending.
You remember Chalkdust’s take on Trinidad’s politicians? Men (not women, there is no equality here) would know that what Chalkdust was speaking about gives a sweet sensation. Maybe he should come to Barbados.
?• Harry Russell is a banker.
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