New bill harms hotels says D Gisele Isaac

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The government will, today, table a Bill in the Lower House of Parliament that would give the Minister of Tourism the power to suspend hotel concessions.
Under the proposed Investment Authority (Amendment) Act 2017, hotels must follow a specific protocol and issue timely notice of temporary closure. The government will suspend concessions for failure to follow the law, which goes into effect November 2, 2017.
Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), D Gisele Isaac, said that the Bill is retaliatory and is not in the best interest of the investment climate of Antigua & Barbuda.
“If you are an owner of a property and the government comes with this big stick and says ‘do as I say and not as I do’ – and I’m saying not as I do because I am thinking of YIDA —then who will want to invest here?
“It’s already so expensive to do business here, to live here, and you are going to make it punitive if people do not conform, as if we are living in Hitler’s Germany or something. How can that be good for an investment climate?” Isaac argued.
She claimed that only illegitimate investors would be attracted to this business environment.
The Bill will require a “hotel proprietor with a 5 per cent or more of the total room occupancy or stock in Antigua & Barbuda to give 30 days’ notice in writing to the government and other stakeholders to include the trade unions, hotel management and staff if it intends to close down for two months or more in any given year.”
The same notice is required if the hotel intends to suspend business for a period of two months or more, for any reason, except natural or manmade disasters or low occupancy.
It also requires that after the notice, the proprietor and the stakeholders must discuss any issue that may arise out of the temporary shutdown.
The Investment Authority (Amendment) Act 2017 is being introduced 10 days after Sandals Grande Antigua Resort & Spa announced that it would be closing temporarily from September 20.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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