Afra Raymond unpacks the Sandals matter in his recent blogpost , Property Matters – Sandals Shuffle, AGAIN – David, Afra Raymond
“…we are running a Country, not a Company…”
—Mia Mottley QC MP, Barbados PM – from her inaugural budget Wednesday, 20 March 2019
This title occurred to me due to the quiet backsliding of the main supporters of the Tobago Sandals project. This is the kind of situation where people thought they were operating safely in the dark, until someone suddenly opens the door and turns on the lights. The emergence of Sandals’ recent skirmishes have also reminded me of a shuffle.
Those shameless promoters told the public repeatedly about how satisfactory the existing arrangements were for State-owned hotels and went on to explain the special benefits of Sandals and so on and so forth. The steady exposure of the rickety arrangements for the existing hotels and the publication of the Tobago Sandals MoU have combined to end the scheme. Sunlight is really the best disinfectant.
The decisive point here, in terms of the important issue of Caribbean Leadership Standards, is that our current political administration agreed to make tax/duty/work permit concessions to Sandals for that Tobago project which the State was funding. In all the other Sandals projects and their various issues about concessions, about which we are hearing so much, those hotels were built by Sandals. In Tobago, our Treasury was going to fund the entire resort and yet our politicians were intending to grant concessions, facilitate transfer-pricing and allow Sandals free choice in respect of goods and services. No wonder those Sandals officials were smiling the whole time. I tell you.
Please note that this kind of deal is not found anywhere else on the planet. That is for those supporters who want to chat about how Sandals transformed here or there. Here is the only country in which we were going to pay for the entire resort. Under the terms of that MoU Sandals was putting no money at risk. None.
None of the former defenders of Tobago Sandals seem ready, willing or able to defend their proposals, now that the actual agreed intentions have been disclosed. We are yet to hear any T&T leader even hint at repudiating any of the detrimental terms agreed in that Tobago Sandals MoU.
That position is quite different from that of the Barbados PM Mia Mottley QC who in delivering her first budget on Wednesday 20th March 2019 spoke strongly against Sandals proposals to obtain certain guarantees which would have prevented them from being taxed any differently for a term of 40 years. PM Mottley was clear in rejecting the Sandals proposals as being inimical to the stability of their country, and diluting the role of Parliament in establishing taxes. ‘…we are running a country, not a company‘ was a striking phrase used by PM Mottley, one for us to remember.
Read full blog post –
Graphic credit: Afra Raymond