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Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
September 10, 2010 (SKNIS)
Manager of the Hotel and Tourism Association (HTA) Michael Head has credited Government for its concessionary programmes stating that they have had a tremendous impact on the survival of many small businesses.
“We’re tremendously grateful “¦ for the concessions that have been given by this Government to the small hotels and the restaurants specifically,” Mr. Head told SKNIS, noting that it has helped offset profit shortfalls. “In fact, I was talking to a restaurateur only last week who said if it hadn’t been for those concessions they would have gone out of business. So we are grateful for those and hopefully they will continue to keep us competitive in the marketplace.”
The HTA Manager was referring chiefly to the Small Hotel Incentive Package which also inspired similar incentives for stand-alone restaurants. The 2009 initiatives allowed duty free imports on a wide range of items including food, wine, cutlery, kitchen appliances and other approved equipment.
Over the years, subsidizations totaling millions of dollars have also been afforded to small and medium sized companies across a wide spectrum of industries. Last week, Minister of Information, Honourable Nigel Carty announced that three small businesses in the fields of clothing design, digital photography and catering have received concessions. The week prior, five concessionary applications were granted by the Cabinet to small manufacturing, service oriented and tourism-related businesses.
Minister Carty explained that the allowances are in keeping with Government’s policy of empowerment to support small and medium enterprises, and part of the thrust to stimulate job creation.
Financial Secretary Janet Harris explained that giving concessions is in essence the same as Government going to the Treasury and writing a cheque to give to a particular business. She noted however that the trade off is well worth it, more so in the short to medium term.
“I think that it has worked over the years because we always say to the international community; if we did not give some of those concessions that we gave to some of these hotel projects that we have here, what would we be doing now “¦ if we were like other countries where we have thousands of people being laid off?” she questioned. “So you give something in the hopes that the spending power will be maintained at a certain level and Government would still be able to collect some revenue.”
Mrs. Harris added that careful monitoring of the concessionary programme is taking place by the relevant authorities and stated that St. Kitts and Nevis’ revenue collection levels were comparable to other countries with higher tax structures.