The Adrian Loveridge Column – Local Media to Blame
Writing a weekly column on a single subject (tourism) can certainly be challenging at times, especially when you tread that fine line, trying to extract meaningful answers to questions that some of us think should be a matter of public record, but that our politicians and policy makers feel should remain a dark secret.
You stand an enormous risk of upsetting some individuals who somehow often hold the power to negatively affect your well being, or who can influence decision makers that ensure you are held back or stifled in business dealings.
It comes with the territory and if you are going to be labelled as outspoken or controversial by a few, it’s something you have to get used to. Conversely, if our guardians of democracy were more open or candid, would it not benefit the country at large?
Just occasionally questions raised eventually get some attention, even if its years later.
A classic example is the recent disclosure questioning the accountability and payment of VAT (value added tax) by one of our tourism operators.
I raised this very point in the Tourism MATTERS column back on 16th December 2013, after a personal stay at one of the properties involved.
Fast forward almost six years and only after attention grabbing bold headlines detailing a class action suit, quoting the words ‘alleged tax fraud’ being initiated in the United States and disseminated globally is the matter finally receiving interest at the highest level?
Of course- in the case of Barbados- in the intervening period there has been a dramatic change of Government, but surely with the amount of potential lost taxes involved which could amount in this solitary location to at least BDS$20 million annually – any administration in a self -declared economically beleaguered state would surely want to rapidly deal with the problem and be seen to be doing so?
What puzzles many of us is that we as hoteliers in Barbados are required to submit VAT returns on a frequent and timely basis and if submissions are late, severe penalties with fines and interest are applied and enforced.
So how would it be possible to avoid this legal obligation for so many years without full Government knowledge and possible complicity?
Returning to the start of this column, are ‘we’ wrong to raise these questions and reasonably expect credible answers?
Unless these areas of concern are addressed in an absolutely transparent manner, there will forever remain the belief there is one law applied to some and a different one to others.