PRESS RELEASE – The United Workers’ Party, is alarmed that the Government, has tabled an Amendment to the Tourism Stimulus and Investment Act 2014 that will give huge tax breaks to new investors without any consultation with stakeholders in the tourism industry, and without any prior notice to the Opposition.
These generous concessions give back to the developers between 5% at the low end for investments between US$1 to US$5 million, to 100% at the high end for investments over US$100 million.
What this means is that new tourism development at the high end will be funded in part by Saint Lucian taxpayers.
Even worse is an amendment which will give developers the right to import and to purchase locally all food and beverage without having to pay any duties or excise taxes.
This will place the restaurants and bars of existing hotels at a competitive disadvantage as these concessions are not extended to them. This is both discriminatory and unfair and could well cause the collapse of several hotel properties that are already struggling and will put more people out of jobs.
In addition, the duty free access to imported food and beverages from overseas could well have a negative impact on our local farmers and food processors, who may find themselves cut out of the supply chain by a flood of cheap imported goods. What will be done to protect our farmers and our producers of art and craft items, that have until now, been able to supply hotel properties with their goods?
No tourism official with whom the leadership of the UWP has consulted, is familiar with these proposed measures.
The UWP Members of Parliament have therefore requested that the Government withdraw the Amendments to give time for broad-based consultation on the proposed measures.