Sandals condemns ‘defamatory’ attacks by Antigua PM

Press Release:-Sandals Resorts International condemns in the strongest possible manner, the vicious, sustained and defamatory attacks that Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne continues to direct at this company.

The Prime Minister’s latest salvo came during the current affairs programme Nationwide at Five Radio Network in Jamaica on November 1, 2017 where he again made false claims that Sandals sought to avoid its tax obligations, and has acted inimical to the interests of the people of Antigua and Barbuda.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but the Prime Minister has demonstrated time and again that he has no interest in the truth.

Sandals Grande Antigua is the flagship hotel of Antigua and Barbuda. Over the past 25 years we have been and continue to be the most significant contributor to the economy (XCD$93 million in 2016).

We are the leading earner of foreign exchange and the highest private sector employer. Sandals is unmatched in marketing Antigua and Barbuda throughout the world, while its citizens benefit from Sandals’ world renowned training and development programmes including access to the Sandals Corporate University. We are proud to boast that Sandals Grande Antigua has some of the very best staff members in the industry, the vast majority of whom are local, and have been with the company since inception.

Communities throughout Antigua and Barbuda benefit from the programmes of the Sandals Foundation, and only recently, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, Chairman Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart personally donated XCD$150,000 to relief efforts in Barbuda – ironically, even that was ungraciously lambasted by Prime Minister Browne as “insufficient”.

But that has been his attitude since 2016, when Prime Minister Browne and his administration, in clear breach of a proper and legally binding agreement, abolished the concessions granted under the previous government and signed by Finance Minister Errol Corte.

The fact is that in March 2000 Sandals, under Prime Minister Lester Bird’s Administration, signed a Memorandum of Understanding which granted the company relief from the Hotel Tax and Guest Levy in exchange for constructing 100 new rooms. Not only did Sandals keep its word to the people of Antigua and Barbuda, we exceeded our obligations by almost doubling the number of rooms and suites to180 at significant additional investment. This included adding tremendous facilities such as a brand new conference centre and restaurants to the resort. In doing so we also increased employment by the addition of 120% more staff members who enjoy some of the highest compensation packages in the Caribbean.

After the Hotel Tax and Guest Levy was replaced by the Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax (ABST), the then government, in 2009, with the sole purpose of ensuring that Sandals as the most significant investor on the island was not to be prejudiced by the introduction of the ABST, granted Sandals compensatory relief from a portion of the ABST in order to maintain the value of the original concession benefits.

Since then Sandals has continued to fulfill its tax obligations in a timely manner and as a responsible stakeholder in Antigua and Barbuda. Our auditors have been top tier international companies such as PriceWaterhouse and most recently Grant Thornton, as well as the government agencies themselves, and there has NEVER, we repeat NEVER, been any issue regarding Sandals’ compliance with its tax obligations including that of ABST.

The Prime Minister is aware of all of this, yet seems intent on maintaining his ill-conceived campaign of defamation against Sandals and its Chairman, both inside and outside of parliament. He either does not comprehend, or is intentionally and maliciously misleading the public regarding the computation of the ABST, claiming that his government has ‘written off’ XCD$100 million.

The issue of a ‘write-off’ does not exist. The fact is that ABST has always been included within the all-inclusive package as a component thereof. There is no question of Sandals ever withholding any taxes legally due and payable, and therefore there is nothing for the government to ‘write off’. The tax has been computed exactly as it was written in the concession agreement granted to Sandals in order to achieve the level of development that you can see there today on Dickenson Bay.

Sandals has done its best to keep the peace, however PM Browne should be reminded that as in all things, stepping outside the law has its consequences.

It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Browne and his government have failed to attract any new investment of significance in the tourism sector, since no major project has broken ground recently despite several promises. However we do not believe we should have to suffer for that.

One would think that with the challenges facing the Caribbean following the passage of two devastating hurricanes the Prime Minister would spend his time in a more constructive manner, as we have done, in reaching out to the marketplace, working alongside rather than against us, to help promote the region and build Antigua and Barbuda’s tourism product.

 

22 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    November 4, 2017 at 12:58 am Reply

    Sandals is the cancer of the carribean. I WISH THEY COULD HAVE HAD ALL THEIR PROPERTIES IN JAMAICA/+

    1. A Voter
      November 4, 2017 at 4:56 am Reply

      So true. I hate that company.

      1. Laughing
        November 4, 2017 at 8:04 am

        Anyone commenting in a negative manner must be jealous that they can’t get hired by Sandals. Honestly without Ssndals you all would be working in the cane fields or selling trinkets on a beach.

      2. Anonymous
        November 4, 2017 at 8:32 am

        You must be retarded , a company that constantly takes advantage of the staff. Well if you are working there I pitty you . So bend over and open wide for Butch….

      3. Anonymous
        November 4, 2017 at 8:56 am

        IS MAKING THAT STATEMENT BY DOMINIC FADEAWAY OR HURRICANE ALLEN?

      4. Gerry
        November 4, 2017 at 8:52 pm

        Really , I am not employed by Sandals nor do I want employment by Sandals and am not in the cane fields or selling trinkets. I also do not mind either of these professions you have mentioned if one is to disrespect my patrimony for it.
        Sandals must respect
        people . Look at the gate they place at pigeon island inspite of the people’s protest. Respect people if you want respect.

  2. Anonymous
    November 4, 2017 at 7:51 am Reply

    Bravo to PM Browne for tackling that goliath Sandals Group. That company does not like to pay its taxes though its guests must pay up front. Check how long they take to pay local farmers for their produce. Time to expose Sandals which is now almost a hotel resort monopoly.

  3. Anonymous
    November 4, 2017 at 8:18 am Reply

    Mr browne you are correct cause right here in st lucia out prime minister gave sandals a huge tax brake.

  4. Prince Dick
    November 4, 2017 at 8:46 am Reply

    THE WORST COMPANY IN CARIBBEAN HISTORY. This company has little regard for local employees. It is the WORST thing that ever came to our shores.

  5. Anonymous
    November 4, 2017 at 10:33 am Reply

    To read a state ment like that …im not jealous of not wkin for sandals..sandals in st.lucia don’t have no labour union and the government is supporting that 100%.

  6. Born and rsise Antiguan
    November 4, 2017 at 1:44 pm Reply

    Thankful is the word. Uou ANTIGUANS ARE A BUNCH A UNGREATFUL NONSENSICAL CITIZENS just like your PIMP BULLY PRIME MINISTER.

  7. Good citizen
    November 4, 2017 at 1:45 pm Reply

    If you believe you doing the people a favour, take your Sandsls and go. We are tired of you exploiting us. The nerves of these White Jamaican colonialist.

  8. Anonymous
    November 4, 2017 at 4:20 pm Reply

    These foreign hoteliers withhold taxes belonging to the government. The sums at times are in excess of $100 000 000. They are lured to these countries by the champagne deals which involve millions of dollars in concessions. They then repatriate most of their profits to their countries of birth/origin. Most of them are lousy corporate citizens as they give back very little to the country. They blackmail the governments by threatening to leave town if the government demands the people’s money. Heartless, soulless, unconscionable vultures they are. Bravo PM Browne! Collect every cent owed to the people. Show them you run things,things no run you. No pussyfooting with the people’s dough.
    Bibz

  9. Gerry
    November 4, 2017 at 8:55 pm Reply

    Sandals is disrespectful. Jamaicans do not own the Caribbean. 1 from 10 is zero and it will always be that way.

  10. Dale Jacobs
    November 4, 2017 at 9:52 pm Reply

    This man Butch thinks he is God feeding the hungry citizens of poor islands. He thinks he is needed more than he needs people and country. Out of his turn over what percentage go to the country and people? Yes he has to pay his employees but how much does he pay in taxes? Not only does he operates tax free he does everything in his power to keep the revenue (his employees NIS contribution) he collects on behalf of the state.

    Tell this man to pay his taxes and give to the state what belong to the state then he will be considered a good business operator not some blonde sucking gnat.

  11. Anonymous
    November 5, 2017 at 9:44 am Reply

    It is really unfortunate and devious when Sandals or any other large company who has obtained concessions look to justify these concessions based on their contribution and / or investment in the country. This right now is just public relations by Sandals in a desperate attempt to convince the public that they are not being duped. To explain, the justification of Sandals contribution via the Sandals Corporate University is missing the critical point that the Government through taxpayers provide infant, primary, secondary and tertiary education even before Sandals Corporate University is considered. This is together with the infrastructure required for the Sandals business to successfully operate, including the road network, the airports, and healthcare system that is funded by the taxes to which Sandals wishes to minimise its contributions. Likewise for the foreign exchange earned by Sandals, if the Government did not support and encourage a banking and financial system to earn that foreign exchange Sandals would have to develop its own system at its cost to generate that foreign exchange. Sandals must remember that with increased power comes increased responsibility including that responsibility to contribute since as a large entity Sandals requires / demands significantly more public resources to facilitate their business operations. The truth is Sandals is in operation to make as large a profit as it can. If it can get someone else (in this scenario the public or the government) to pay for its expenses, that means higher profits. This is exactly how concessions work. So when Sandals get concessions, who pays for it? It is the taxpaying public, including the small businesses that are trying to get a footing and have no concessions.

    1. JnPierre
      November 8, 2017 at 9:22 am Reply

      Good points. Now let me ask, what have you done lately to improve your community?

  12. Sitco
    November 5, 2017 at 10:39 am Reply

    Sandals dont like to pay taxes. What is the different between them and the former plantation owners

  13. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 2:04 pm Reply

    Sandals is and has been raping many Caribbean islands………Prime Minister Browne is the only leader bold enough to say it…………..let them leave, someone else will buy the property!

  14. James
    November 8, 2017 at 9:21 am Reply

    I really wish that Sandals packs up its bags and goes. And let each of you mindless imps have to take care of one of the families that will be unemployed. You talk about taking advantage of employees – why don;t you talk about an unemployed man having to watch his children starve. No matter what (and I hear the workers are well paid) the company provides jobs for nearly 2,000 St Lucians. You bitter, vile, nasty people who don;t want to see beyond on your noses are the ones who sucking the blood out of St Lucia, not Sandals. When they millions they put into the economy every year goes away and government has to raise personal tax, food prices go up, gas prices go up and everything else goes up so government can make up for the money lost, then let me hear you talk. The oil giant Trinidad trying to get Sandals because they understand what it brings, and you mindless zombies have only gutter talk to offer.

    1. Anonymous
      November 8, 2017 at 3:25 pm Reply

      Signed SANDALS Public relations team lol

  15. JnPierre
    November 8, 2017 at 9:26 am Reply

    Which one of you cussing Sandals gets up on a morning, cooks some food for the needy and gives it to them? Which one of you goes by a neighbour and gives them some money every week because they umemployed? Which one of you does voluntary community service and cleans up the beach and drains where you live? How many of your ‘critics’ do anything to help this country. But you want to cuss the people who employing nearly 2,000 Saint Lucians.
    Come again yu hear.

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