Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 19th 2016 Contents MAY 19 • 2016 www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
REGIONAL | BG21
The Barbados economy grew
by an estimated 1.7 per cent
during the first quarter of
calendar 2016, thanks to
another strong winter tourist
season. Long-stay arrivals
were up seven per cent, with continued
improvement in the US and UK markets.
Visitors from the United States increased
by 13.1 per cent to reach an estimated 42,000
in the quarter, while those from the United
Kingdom increased by almost ten per cent
to around 69,000. The Canadian market,
however, declined by one percent to just
over 30,000, while Germany and the rest
of Europe declined around seven per cent
to 13,000 visitors.
Closer to home, the Trinidad & Tobago
market grew by one-third to 7,000 rivals
and the rest of Carom by close to three per-
cent to just over 12,000. Brazil, which only
provide 1,400 visitors in the first quarter of
last year, decline almost by half to 700.
But the surge in two of our largest markets
was enough to boost arrivals by seven percent
over the same period last year, as noted
above, and the question on everyone s mind
is whether Barbados can continue to grow
its tourism industry after its dramatic
rebounding last year, when long stay visitor
arrivals grew by almost 14 per cent to reach
Questions were posed to the Minister of
Tourism Richard Sealy, after he had addressed
tour operators and hoteliers who were visiting
Heroes Gallery in Parliament Square as part
of the Connect Barbados 50 conference.
Asked if believed Barbados will have a
strong summer season?
"In essence, yes. Obviously the Crop Over
Festival seems to be attracting a lot of region-
al---and a lot of extra-regional---business
here, but I think with the 50th ((independence
anniversary celebrations) and many members
of our diaspora planning to come back here,
it really should be a good opportunity for
our tourism players."
And, while the country continues to spend
money to bring airlift here, through what is
called in the industry "co-op marketing" as
well as direct subsidies and minimum revenue
guarantees, Sealy said the country is now
starting to attract more airlift by virtue of
increased consumer demand.
"We really do believe that with the
increased capacity that we re getting, from
Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada, British Airways,
Jet Blue, new services like Avianca, and of
course, Condor putting back the third flight
and so on, we think the possibility is there
for us to increase over last year. No question
"A lot of the capacity has come from air-
lines themselves responding to demand." he
noted. "And that, of course, has been fueled
by investment in the hotel sector. It s
extremely heartening to see the level of activ-
ity in Barbados among our hotel partners
with respect to upgrading and refurbishing,
in some cases acquiring new property or
looking to (do so)."
He added: "You look at all the major
groups in Barbados, they are looking to
acquire a new property. The sector is seeing
a rebirth in confidence."
The Tourism Minister said that while he
was happy to see a turnaround in the industry
come as a result of policy initiatives taken
by his government, he would not try to take
all of the credit.
"It also has to do with what has happened
over many decades... A foundation has been
laid and we are just trying to build on it, to
harness it in the most advantageous way,
and I m satisfied that we re going in the
The Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) said
it is satisfied with the Government s move to honour
its election promise of a tax break for PAYE workers,
but said the administration needed to do more to
broaden the tax net as that is the source of the country s
inability to collect adequate revenue.
"The association maintains that creating a general
tax regime that is competitive and promotes economic
growth is largely dependent on a holistic approach
to tax reform," the JMA said Friday in response to the
tax measures outlined by Finance Minister Audley
Shaw in Parliament on Thursday.
The Jamaica Labour Party s campaign promise to
increase the income tax threshold to US$1.5 million
in April this year was a major factor that swung the
February 25 General Election in the party s favour.
But opening the budget debate, Shaw announced
a two-phase increase in the threshold from US$592,800
to US$1.5 million by next April. In the first phase,
which becomes effective July 1 this year, the threshold
will be increased to US$1,000, 271 per annum and
will rise to US$1.5 million on April 1, 2017.
Instead of the 118,000 workers originally designated
to benefit from the income tax relief, it is now expected
that just over a quarter-million Jamaicans would actu-
On Friday, the JMA said that while it commended
the Government s efforts at tax reform, it was calling
for the immediate resumption of the Private Sector
Working Group, as national collaboration is critical
to developing effective tax reform legislation.
"We are, however, hopeful that the tax relief given
to the 251,792 people on the PAYE roster will in turn
result in higher consumer spending, specifically on
Jamaican-made products and services," the JMA said.
"It is therefore imperative for the Government and
all Jamaicans to support the Buy Jamaican, Build
Jamaica campaign, as this increase in spending must
to be directed into the local economy rather than on
In reponse to Shaw s announcement of an additional
$7 special consumption tax (SCT) levied on gasolene,
the JMA said that with oil prices trending upwards,
this may become excessively burdensome on con-
sumers and requires careful management.
The association also said that the actual SCT to be
levied on LNG was not stated by the minister in his
presentation, and as such, it was hoping that the price
levied is not unduly excessive, as this may affect the
prices of commodities that utilise LNG for their pro-
It also said it welcomed the Government s decision
to examine policies to improve productivty through
improving access to finance and micro credit legislation.
The manufacturers group also praised the Gov-
ernment for its decision to continue the tax break
incentives for companies listed on the Junior Stock
Exchange, which, it said, was in line with its continued
advocacy on the matter. Caribbean360.com
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology,
Dr Andrew Wheatley, says several international
investors have indicated interest in buying into
Jamaica s renewable energy sector.
He said this was evident based on discus-
sions at the United States Caribbean Central
American Energy Summit meeting in Wash-
ington, DC, which he attended, along with
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, last week.
"We are encouraged by that, as we are seeing
more investments coming into Jamaica as it
relates to using renewable energy. That is the
take-away from the summit; the level of inter-
est that we saw, that a lot of investors are
looking to come and invest in our energy sector
here in Jamaica," he told JIS News, following
a groundbreaking ceremony for the Caribbean s
first Net Zero Energy Building at the University
of West Indies (UWI), Mona on May 10.
The minister said the summit was a suc-
cessful one, and noted that Jamaica was hailed
by United States Vice President, Joe Biden,
and Secretary of State, John Kerry, for the ini-
tiatives taken in the country to advance the
use of renewables to generate energy.
He noted that the country has in the past
benefitted from significant investments from
international partners, for which the Govern-
ment is grateful.
The summit, which pulled together
Caribbean and Central American heads of
government and energy ministers, multilateral
development banks, the private sector, and
other international partners, caps off the work
of the US-Caribbean-Central American Energy
Security Task Force.
The group was launched by US President,
Barack Obama, with regional leaders in April
2015 to advance energy security, enhance
regional energy cooperation, support clean
energy integration, and promote donor coor-
The Prime Minister, at the summit, engaged
in discussions on the results of the task force
and identified steps the United States and
regional leaders can take to ensure that citizens
of these regions achieve more secure, affordable
and clean energy solutions.
The Americas Business Dialogue chaired a
series of meetings between heads of govern-
ment and the private sector to explore new
opportunities for trade, investment, and inno-
vation in the energy sector.
According to a release on the White House
Web site, the leaders agreed on the importance
of a diverse fuel supply and greater access to
cleaner, cost-effective and reliable energy to
spur energy security and economic compet-
itiveness in the regions.
Tourism growing again due
to a 'rebirth in confidence'
Investors express interest in Jamaica renewable energy sector
JMA hails Govt
for income tax
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