Prime Minister Gaston Browne has told state media that he views the five-month closure of Sandals as “an act of hostility against the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.”
Speaking from Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic the Antigua and Barbuda leader said he was surprised to learn of the closure adding that it was “an inordinate amount of time to spend on repairs and maintenance.”
He said the Sandals closure had nothing to do with a decision by the government to collect the correct amount of sales tax from the hotel.
Instead, the Prime Minister revealed that the decision by the hotel is more likely linked to a request it recently made for more additional concessions.
He says a request to waive taxes and duties on food and beverage was deferred “considering that other hotels on the island could have made similar demands if we proceeded.”
“We explained to them that the government finances are in a very precarious position and that the waiver of taxes would plunge the government into a financial crisis,” Browne explained.
The PM said he told Sandals their request will be considered again when the economy improves.
He said, “proposed closure is a play for additional concessions.”
The prime minister told ABS that he is trying to resolve the issue with Sandals amicably.
He called on the country to unite on this issue and said if Sandals follows through with its decision “this too shall pass.”
“At the end of the day, everything will be alright.
At least 700 workers at the Dickenson Bay property will be affected when the hotel closes for the first time in 25 years. The closure will take effect from September 20.
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