At least one local promoter has come out publicly and expressed his disgruntlement with government’s decision to increase taxes to bring foreign artistes into the country to perform and entertain the Grenadian public.
This newspaper understands that the cost of a work permit has been significantly increased by the two year old Keith Mitchell-led administration from EC$1, 000 to EC$2, 500 and in some cases EC$5, 000 while the cost of the application form moved from EC$10 to EC$100.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper last week Thursday, Managing Director of Sunshine Promotions Grenada, Ian “Judah” St. Bernard said the recent price hikes are making it “hard for the promoters” to successfully bring in foreign artistes to do shows.
The outspoken St. Bernard disclosed that his outfit known as Judah Sound System has been forced to “downscale” some of his upcoming shows this year namely the “Night of Love” Mother’s Day Concert and the “Ah December to Remember” in an effort to “keep it going for the lovers and supporters of the events.”
Another promoter Wayne “Waggy –T” Redhead, who is known to be close to the ruling party has confirmed the cancellation of the “Best of the Best” show this year that is organised by his company, Mega Force Promotions.
Waggy-T will not affirm that the action is as a result of the new rates and declined to make any further comment on the issue.
He promised to issue an official statement on the matter soon.
The “Waggy-T” crew has often been hired by the ruling New National Party (NP) to provide the sound system for its political meetings especially at major rallies.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the newly formed Grenada Promoters
Association, Dexter Mitchell told THE NEW TODAY that a meeting was scheduled for yesterday (Thursday) to address the concerns of the local promoters.
Speaking with the media last week Tuesday during the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Aaron Francois acknowledged that the promoters have expressed concerns, however, he said meetings held with them in the past have been “successful” to thrash out a number of issues.
According to Francois, the Promoters have had issues including work permits for foreign artistes coming into the island and these have since been clarified.
“They thought it was overbearing…having to access work permits for artistes coming into Grenada” as required under the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy (CSME), he said.
“Under the CARICOM Protocol, provision is made for artistes to move freely,” Francois pointed out noting that musicians are given priority.”
He went on to explain that unlike the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) where artistes and musicians can move freely, “there is the CARICOM Skills certificate that they must acquire before being able to move freely within CARICOM, which is “being facilitated through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
Additionally, Francois said the local show biz promoters “also had the issue with the withholding tax” and it was pointed out to them that once the CARICOM national has a Skills Certificate that allows (him or her) to move freely in the region they do not have to pay withholding tax.”
He stated that there were some other issues regarding other fees that the promoters felt were burdensome and they met with officials from the Ministry of Finance who informed them that “some of the fees are legislated” and so the Ministry “would have to seek further guidance” before moving forward.
Francois expressed the view that the promoters are very concerned because the burden falls on them to make the payments.
“In other words, because they are bringing in artistes they have to meet the expenses, Francois noted, and we are saying, “if the artiste do what they have to do” to meet the requirements under CARICOM “their concerns can be alleviated.”