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VAT on Costumes for Crop Over 2008

March 26, 2008

211304273_c9f55ba650_m.jpgREVELLERS MAY HAVE to pay as much as $450 to jam down Spring Garden in this year’s Grand Kadooment.

The hike is a result of the strict enforcement of the 15 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) charge on costumes.

President of the Barbados Association of Masqueraders (BAM), Roger Millar, said yesterday that the “hard thing” about the new regulation was that VAT had to be paid on costumes that were not sold.

He said the new regulation would force band-leaders to clamp down on concessions and free costumes.

Noting that the average costume ranged from $250 to $400, he said he would not be surprised if the cost went up by $50 more.

However, he did not think the hike would deter would-be revellers, because Barbadians always got “value for money”.

Impossible

He said local bands usually offered all-inclusive packages which included costumes, drinks and a meal. He added that bandleaders had been fighting to keep prices down, but it had become “impossible” to maintain lower prices.

“Some bands would not have been registered before, and this will be the first time that all the bands will need to be registered. So you will see an increase across the board in costume prices for some bands.

“Some bands will be able to maintain similar pricing structure, based on the fact they will not be entering the VAT arena for the first time,” he said.

Though confirming that VAT was already included in their cost and the new requirement would not adversely affect them or the bigger bands, Chetwyn Stuart of PowerXFour said the authorities might need to look at some form of concessions to encourage more bands to come out, and to help bandleaders who have been contributing to Crop-Over for a number of years.

Multiple-award winning designer Gwyneth Squires said the VAT requirement was “ridiculous”.

A peeved Squires complained that designers had not yet purchased a piece of material for costumes “and people talking about VAT”.

She said most of the bandleaders did not work and had to pay bills with whatever little income they got. The situation was compounded by the fact that sponsorship was hard to secure.

“If they want to see good bands come out on de road, forget VAT,” she cautioned.

Long-time band leader Betty West said an increase was unavoidable, and that it would cause some fallout that would affect the actual mas’.

“It’s going to put a damper on us . . . . We’re going to have fewer band members and we’ll probably have to give away more costumes,” West suggested.

The bandleaders said BAM would need to sit down with the relevant authorities to discuss the issue.

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