Eleven Restaurants Get Approval For Stimulus Package

Reggae Beach Bar & Grill - St. Kitts

Reggae Beach Bar & Grill – St. Kitts – Nevis

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis

July 24, 2009 (CUOPM)

Just about a dozen restaurants have been benefitting from the stimulus package for “Full Service Stand Alone Restaurants.”

“Thus far 11 applications have been approved for the stimulus package. These are Ballahoo, Bobsy’s Bar & Grill, Circus Grill, King’s Palace, La Belle Vie, Marshall’s, P.J’s, Reggae Beach Bar & Grill, Rock Lobster, Serendipity and Spice Mill,” a statement from the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Service (SKIPA) said Friday.

The stimulus package, which began on July 1st 2009, will extend for a period of one year and allows qualifying restaurants access to duty free importation of food and wine. It also makes provision for a one time duty free importation of cutlery, plates, glasses, furniture, kitchen appliances and equipment. Duty free importation requires the importer to pay only a 12% Customs Service Charge.

The terms of the stimulus package require participating restaurants to complete and submit a monthly statistics form that records the quantity of local produce purchased and the number of local persons employed.

The stimulus package targets full service restaurants which traditionally require a high level of employment. Concessions granted under this initiative are designed to reduce overhead thus assisting owners in their efforts to maintain employment at existing levels during the current economic slowdown.

“Although restaurateurs are permitted to import produce at a duty free rate the programme encourages restaurateurs to purchase produce locally and only import produce in cases where the item is not available locally. The concessions granted on the importation of kitchen equipment and furniture are designed to support and facilitate the restaurants that need to upgrade their facilities in order to provide a higher quality of service,” said SKIPS’s statement.

Access to the stimulus package is based on the restaurant’s ability to meet set criteria which include but are not limited to having a 75% local workforce, a wine list, full service of food and wine to set tables and being in good standing with both Social Security and the Inland Revenue Department.

The Tax Amnesty programme which is currently being facilitated by the Inland Revenue Department has provided a high level of synergy for the stimulus package. Some restaurateurs that were behind on taxes have been able to use the tax amnesty programme in order to qualify for the stimulus package.

This provides a “win-win” situation for all parties as the government is able to collect tax revenue that was owed to them and the restaurants are giving the opportunity to benefit from the stimulus package designed to assist them during the current economic slowdown that is negatively affecting the tourism industry.

SKIPA said that the efficient facilitation of this program is heavily dependent on the collaborative efforts of the Hotel & Tourism Association, the Customs Department, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Tourism, the Inland Revenue Department, Social Security, and local wholesale suppliers.

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