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Prime Minister Gonsalves wants hike in departure tax, but not yet


Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has indicated that he would like to have an increase in the local Departure Tax, but would not do so because of the current economic downturn.{{more}}

The Prime Minister, speaking at a press conference at Cabinet Room this Wednesday, said that an increase, from the EC$40 that is currently being charged, would assist in the upkeep of the various airports that are found in the multi-sland state.

“I would really like to do it because we are the lowest in the region, and I want some money to pay for the repair of all the airports.

“Just about two years ago, we paid a couple million dollars for the repair of the strip in Bequia. We have to go now to repair it again.

“Last year we spent four million dollars repairing the strip at E.T. Joshua.”

Dr Gonsalves told journalists that he was approached by two St Lucians at the E.T. Joshua Airport last week, who lamented having to pay departure tax to return to their homeland.

He said that he informed them that if he were to be leaving St Lucia, he would have had to pay about EC$50 in departure tax and an additional $100 in Airport Development Tax.

“If you go from St Lucia to Barbados, as much as 55% of the fare, of the cost of the ticket would go to the government of St Lucia and not to LIAT, because of the taxes.

“But of course, they are not looking at their own situation, and they are considering that $40 is a bit of an imposition; so I smile about all that.”

According to Gonsalves, St Vincent and the Grenadines has the lowest departure tax in the Caribbean.

“We are a year and a half away from the completion of the Argyle international airport, but we have not increased the departure tax by one cent.

“Now I’d really like to have some revenue from this departure tax, but I am mindful of the downturn in the economy worldwide, and people not travelling as much as before because of their economic situation,

and because of the cost of travel in the region,” he said. (JJ)