As we edge apparently aimlessly towards an inevitable general election there appears, at least through my eyes, little or no compulsion to place my X on the ballot paper of any wannabe politician in my constituency. We have only seen our current representative twice in over ten years, a onetime visit to our property and the second at a popular Bridgetown café.
We still await a VAT refund amounting to tens of thousands of dollars due since February 2013 despite having a single year’s Municipal Solid Waste Tax demand with added interest and penalties, even though we have absolutely no state garbage collection. Of course we would be happy to offset this (excluding interest) against any outstanding government dues including land taxes, although not yet payable, but just try and get a response from the Barbados Revenue Authority or its principals.
They seem to think they have absolutely no accountability or obligation to reply to the people paying their salaries.
And in the tourism sector there are still so many unresolved issues including the hundreds and more likely thousands of unregistered and unlicensed accommodation operators trading outside of the required criteria that the others are forced to comply with.
Will any new administration push this pressing matter onto the back burner and ignore the previous work done if elected, or will the long overdue process be forced to start over again with another potential delay of ten years or more? Are ‘we’ really waiting for some yet unknown public relations nightmare to happen that could potentially indelibly help destroy our hard earned reputation as a destination?
What, if any, progress on the promised reduction of VAT and tax concessions on inputs to our standalone restaurants, when the chosen few have been given these trading advantages several years ago and in some individual cases unparallel 40 year, total or partial exemptions.
Our car rental sub-sector has also been forced to absorb massive increases in unbudgeted expenditure, including randomly imposed higher vehicle taxes and duties, the dreaded National Social Responsibility Levy and its 400 per cent increase, higher insurance premiums and let us not for a second, forget the additional damage and maintenance costs caused by the appalling state of our neglected road network.
What is indisputable is that the tourism industry provides the highest number of eligible voters together with their dependents of any sector.
Why do these aspiring politicians not seem to either understand, or wish to address these issues, at least in the hope of securing their votes?
While my little vote is a mere straw in the wind, just maybe there are enough other disillusioned persons out there to demand that at least one politician or party who can fully embrace the dynamics of tourism and its critical role in any possible recovery of our dire economy, hopefully over the next two or three generations.
What part of the phrase ‘tourism is an export’ do they not comprehend and which other major sector offers us any realistic hope of fiscal recuperation?