St Lucians protest a $24 million Sandals tax write-off to Sandals Resorts by their Allan Chastenet Government
During a public demonstration in Saint Lucia last week, some protesters called on the owner of Sandals Resorts, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, to pay a disputed tax assessment of $24.4 million dating back to 2001, including interest and penalties, which the government later agreed to write off.
Tax concessions and write-offs in favour of Sandals has been a thorny issue in the region for some time, and is now achieving greater prominence after the Jamaica Observer, which is owned by Stewart, started publishing a still ongoing series of articles vilifying Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, after his government put a stop to a similar situation there.
Browne’s stand resonated throughout the region, especially in Saint Lucia, after the government’s withdrawal of the $24Million tax assessment, with some social media comments describing Saint Lucia PM Allen Chastanet as Stewart’s “puppet”.
Others said, “Our not so bright PM gave him back $24 million” … “Stand firm, Mr Browne, I admire you; wish we had a PM like you in Saint Lucia. All we got here is an idiot” … “Since he’s able to get his way with Chastanet, he feels he can treat the others likewise; stand firm Mr Browne.”
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