Gov’t backed Chris Brown concert but no financial support promised -Ali

Government only endorsed the Chris Brown concert that was billed to be staged here last month, and it did not commit any financial support to the promoters.

“The government of Guyana merely endorsed the concert. No financial resources were expended in supporting this concert or Mr. Brown’s participation in it,” said Minister of Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali.

He was at the time responding in writing to a series of questions posed by APNU Shadow Finance Minister Carl Greenidge about possible tax breaks for the organisers of the concert, which was advertised to come off on Boxing Day before it was scrapped.

The concert was abruptly cancelled, with Brown’s camp saying that no deal was ever signed with Guyana as they had already signed with another country to perform on the said date.

Greenidge also asked Ali to state how much support to such concerts has cost taxpayers, in terms of revenue foregone and other benefits since June 2012.

In reply, Ali said that the government only offers tax breaks. He explained that during peak travel periods, such as February, August and December, government has established principles governing those breaks for big events.

He said that government does not see the tax breaks as revenue lost, since it believes that the mega concerts that are staged by established promoters and entertainers have a positive economic spin-off for all stakeholders involved.

Questioned as to the basis for the announcement that large amounts of foreign visitors would come to Guyana for the sole purpose of attending the concert, Ali cited Brown’s double platinum recording status and noted that estimates from hotels here showed that over 700 hotel rooms were booked for a period of four nights to coincide with the concert.

He was also asked what criteria had the PPP/C government been using in deciding whether to extend financial support to the organisers of such events. “We have established periods for tax breaks. Entertainers and promoters would formally solicit waiver of taxes, for a particular mega concert, from the relevant minister who subsequently (gives) his/her recommendation, based on his judgment, on whether the promoter or entertainer should be granted same,” he responded, while adding that the Guyana Revenue Authority will grant the exemption of taxes with the consent or no objection of the Minister of Finance. The periods selected are carefully considered to stimulate visitor arrival and add international flavour to the menu of activities available to tourists and locals during these periods, he added.

Greenidge also wanted to know if the same criteria were applied other artists, such as Sizzla, Bounty Killa, Vybz Kartel and Mavado, who either performed here or were scheduled to do so. Ali, who pointed out that only recently Mavado performed in Guyana at a major concert, said the Tourism Ministry does not have any criterion that excludes anyone.

Greenidge also asked what input the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Human Services and Social Security had in the decision to support the Brown concert. Ali stated that the concert was a private sector activity that was only endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism. He added that the ministry would consult with all relevant agencies to ensure that full consideration is given prior to an endorsement.

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