Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley, has called on the private sector and individuals to invest in the cultural industries, and in turn, benefit from tax concessions.
Speaking to the media during the Caribbean Music Summit held at the Hilton Barbados Resort recently, Mr. Lashley said that with the proclamation of the Cultural Industries Development Act, incentives were not limited to cultural practitioners but were also extended to persons and businesses investing in the cultural industries.
He explained that under the Act, individuals or private sector companies that invest in cultural practitioners or an approved cultural project are eligible for generous income tax concessions for the first five years after the commencement of the Act.
???A major potential investment opportunity would be investing in the Cultural Industries Fund. We are looking to have it set up, but in difficult times we need to find that funding first. So a very innovative provision under the legislation allows for cultural entrepreneurs and cultural practitioners to invest in the Cultural Industries Fund in exchange for income tax concessions, which can only help their own businesses,??? he stated.
He added that heritage was another major investment area under the Act, as the Ministry of Culture was interested in restoring the island???s iconic buildings.
???Persons, particularly in the private sector, can come up with a cultural project in the heritage area. Once that cultural project is designed and submitted to the Cultural Industries Development Authority and approved, there are a host of incentives in terms of exemption from import duties and income tax concessions that are allowed under the legislation,??? he pointed out.
According to the Act, an investor means an individual, company, partnership; an unincorporated body or incorporated body; or a cultural entrepreneur or a cultural practitioner, who invests in a cultural project with the expectation of receiving a financial return.
The Cultural Minister stressed that by investment, ???you are really talking about a cash injection???, and reasoned that investment could come by means of sponsorship for an approved cultural project.
???Once the investor has evidence that he is supporting a registered cultural business or cultural project, he or she, in calculating their assessable income, would be entitled to claim the relevant income tax concession,??? he noted.
Mr. Lashley further explained that if the investment was purchasing shares in a cultural enterprise, the dividends earned on those shares were exempt from withholding and other taxes under the Income Tax Act.