Antigua PM vs Sandals – the saga continues

Antigua Observer:-Adam Stewart, CEO of Sandals Resort International is challenging the comments made by the Prime Minister Gaston Browne that his father’s company has been demanding heavy concessions.

“Mr. Browne has put himself in a corner with Sandals resort that is very unfortunate, because there is no other hotel that has been reliable or more consistent,” Stewart said.

The Sandals CEO in refuting the allegations made by the prime minister suggested that PM Browne should challenge those “assertions” in court. Stewart added that if the saga reaches to that point, his company will have numbers to dispel the allegations.

According to a statement issued by the company, “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.”

PM Browne has for months accused the Jamaican-based company of unjustifiably asking for long concessionary periods, a request he says cannot be sustained in the twin-island’s economy.

Browne said throughout the region tourism industries have had to “struggle” because hoteliers are extracting much concession. He explained that those country’s income “would have been drastically reduced because … these hotels do not pay for corporation taxes.”

Last week, during a telephone interview on Nationwide 90FM in Jamaica, Browne said if a business cannot turn a profit in about ten years, then it is clearly not viable, adding that hoteliers use their significant influence on small countries.

Those comments led, Stewart to criticise the prime minister for making “assertions” on how Sandals Resorts International calculates its taxes and said Browne was acting like a “broken record.”

“We were given legally binding concessions which they have chosen not to honour. Now they are claiming that our calculations as a result of the granted concessions are not right,” Stewart said.

The hotel CEO also responded to Browne’s proposed “entrepreneurial socialism,” which would see the government having a stake in hotel projects. He said that the company has worked with governments that have stakes in hotels – as recent as last month with Trinidad and Tobago – which “contradicts another assertion” made by Browne.

“Do we want to be a part of what he’s doing with his government?” Stewart asked rhetorically before answering, “Absolutely not. Would we do it with another government? A government which we see as more ethical, and fairer and less political, you know we have just done it.”

Sandals has once again condemned the prime minister’s “defamatory attacks,” on Friday, but Stewart said these exchanges will not run the company from Antigua. Sandals has operated in Antigua since 1991, becoming one of the largest private sector employers on the island. Stewart said that Sandals has made a concerted effort to employ Antiguans at every level of operations and favours using Antiguan products and services.

The latter being in response to the prime minister accusing the company of not using products like English Harbour Rum at its two resorts. He advocated that Sandals believes in linkages and helps to boost local economies, especially with taxi operators, which he estimated as 60 operating here.

15 Comments

  1. Reality
    November 6, 2017 at 9:09 am Reply

    PM Gaston Browne…is my hero Prime Minister….full stop

    1. Anonymous
      November 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm Reply

      Exactly. I believe PM Browne. I hope he continues to hold them accountable. how many antiguans do they really employ and how much money do those employees actually get out of sandals compared to the millions that sandals is losing by keeping the place shut down. time to show them. look at how much local staff is benefiting. if its just a hundred thousand in wages in a couple of months, most likely it is, have them shut down if they dont pay taxes. because compared to the millions they make, a hundred grand in the economy is nothing. have them pay taxes.

  2. Reality
    November 6, 2017 at 9:18 am Reply

    This caliber of a PM is nothing like the moron who just waived a $24 million for Sandals in Saint Lucia….while our children cannot attend school because the dilapidated buildings.

  3. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 9:33 am Reply

    Sandals getting away with too much. Cudos to Gaston Brown. He has back bone. Something Chastenet and them fellas lacking.

  4. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 9:55 am Reply

    Many Caribbean prime ministers are too docile and submissive. They stand idly by and allow foreign hoteliers to trample on the local employees, deprive the local government of much needed revenue in taxes, and give ridiculously mind-boggling concessions to these avaricious opportunists. Meantime, the governments spend through their noses on infrastructural development and maintenance to accommodate these money grabbers. Infrastructures like air and sea ports, roads, electricity, water are prohibitively expensive to develop and maintain. PM Browne deserves high commendation for speaking out and up on behalf of his people. The sweetheart concessionary deals that these investors are afforded should be discontinued. These give-away deals only lead to labor exploitation, revenue losses for the government, and a bonanza for the exploiters. The Plantation System is back again.
    Vibz

  5. Mike Hunt
    November 6, 2017 at 10:07 am Reply

    Dear moderator, please explain why you are blocking my posts.
    Yours sincerely
    Mike Hunt

  6. Annoyed
    November 6, 2017 at 10:27 am Reply

    Sandals cannot stand criticism these day they destroying Saint Lucia !

  7. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 11:26 am Reply

    Browne is doing such a good job putting his feet down for his country. Sandals is riping away the revenue in our country and it’s so ashamed that are not so thinking PM is not seeing that.

  8. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 12:45 pm Reply

    He is not seeing this because his hands full of bribes…..and that is where he and Guy….sitting and dineing..hmmm…….sorry for St Lucia….when they finish poor people will be feeling it..we are the ones that have to pay out taxes…before we can even get a plan from the bank…and the hotels getting away with it….

    1. Johnson
      November 6, 2017 at 2:35 pm Reply

      You can only say that being anonymous. Keep hiding repeater of cabbage.

  9. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm Reply

    Right now ….the goverment of St Lucia crushing…..the poor man..do pay up their taxes …..while SANDALS REAPEING HARVEST IN THIS ISLAND….AND THE WORKERS…ARE BEING TREATED LIKE SLAVES….AT THE WORK PLACE….

  10. Dale Jacobs
    November 6, 2017 at 12:52 pm Reply

    If did not know better I would every single word you say Stewart.

  11. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm Reply

    Its so true……….Sandals does not serve St. Lucian rums at any of its locations here in St . Lucia.

  12. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 2:20 pm Reply

    These small islands should unite and stand up to these hotels their plant is here let’s see what they can do. If after 10 to 15 years you still need more concessions then you should close it can’t work. Why don’t the governments carry out an audit of all monies paid for the guests holiday and see how much we are being robbed

  13. Anonymous
    November 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm Reply

    Too bad most other island PMs only care about themselves especially here in lucia

Leave a Reply

Shares