Former opposition leader and Parliamentary Representative for Castries North Stephenson King has said he supports a Tourism Stimulus and Investment Bill which government presented to the House of Assembly on Tuesday, April 15, 2014.
The bill, which seeks to foster development within the sector, also encompasses a number of special incentives and tax breaks for proposed, new and existing tourism projects and other related matters.
Speaking in parliament, King commended government for deciding to institute that piece of legislation which he said is “intended to stimulate some activity in the economy in these trying times”.
“From all indications, the construction, the content and the intent of the legislation seem to be on tact,” he further stated.
“I do hope the intended Act will create the enabling environment for the investment that is necessary. What is also commendable is that the legislation gives Saint Lucians the opportunity to invest in the sector,” he said.
King warned however, that it must be ensured that the systems and initiatives which the bill speaks of are correctly enforced. He said while it is important to stimulate the economy, it is equally critical to ensure that systems are in place to monitor, regulate and execute the legislation.
He further cautioned that structures should be monitored to avoid abuse.
King took the opportunity to speak against what he coined as expediency in parliament whereby individuals who often support initiatives when in government would turn around and fight them when in opposition.
“When in government we preach one thing, and when in opposition we preach a different thing. When I sat in the chair, that the minister for finance sits today, it often pained me when I felt that there are those who on every occasion found reason to condemn legislation even though such legislation was in the interest of the people,” he said.
“So, times have gone by and things must change and all of us in this parliament must agree that these are challenging times throughout the world,” he said.
Under the new legislation, there will be special income tax exemptions for tourism developmental projects, as well as Value Added Tax exemptions for building materials, furniture, and locally produced art and craft during the developmental period of certain tourism initiatives.
Anyone who fails to comply with conditions of this Act may have their approval for such incentives revoked or suspended. This will be done by cabinet.