Hotel sector must act to assist economy

As one of the island’s largest consumers of electricity, the hotel sector should have to carry a little more of the Value Added Tax (VAT) load.

President of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association Aidan Rogers made this suggestion recently, pointing out that in this time of fiscal crisis, the hotel sector must also make sacrifices.

“You can ask the hotel sector to pay a bit more in the VAT rate. I am no economist, but I put that issue on the table because we are in a crisis and we need to be brutally honest with the circumstances. All of us have been asked to sacrifice,” he noted.

Quick to state that he was “not picking” on the sector, he stated that currently the sector pays a little less than half of the 17.5 percent VAT rate; a situation that could not be allowed to continue.

Speaking at the United Nations House during a special meeting for the members of BREA, he pointed out that the recent interim draft of the National Sustainable Energy Policy illustrated that the hotel sector, which had just over 100 hotels, accounted for 15 per cent of the island’s national electricity consumption, and that “if you had to look at the aggregate percentage of our fuel import bill for electricity generation and what that translates to, I am sure that even with low oil prices now, it probably would be in excess of $10 million or $15 million.”

He encouraged the sector to push energy efficiency throughout its various plants, describing it as low hanging fruit that would help reduce the island’s dependence on fossil fuels and its large energy bill.

“The reason energy efficiency is seen as the lowest hanging fruit is because one of the fortunate sectors in this economy, which has received from inception, an exemption from the National Social Responsibility Levy, is the tourism sector. That very sector can significantly improve their energy efficiency and their energy consumption by investing in some of the very energy efficient technologies that will now be affected: lighting, air conditioning, and solar water heating for hot water that they require,” he said. (JMB)

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