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PM: Departure tax increase not an Argyle airport tax

PM: Departure tax increase not an Argyle airport tax

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The recent increase on the departure tax is not to facilitate the construction of the international airport at Argyle.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves made this assertion on Tuesday, as he responded to a question posed in Parliament by opposition member St Clair Leacock, for the Prime Minister to state whether or not the tax was an Argyle Airport tax.

Leacock’s question was prompted by references, made by Gonsalves, early during the debate on Airport Service Charge Bill, to the need for some additional revenues to fund the construction of the international airport.

“I don’t think the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines will make some adverse comment, except if they want to manufacture it – to put on a $10 for the departure tax where it hadn’t been increased for eight years and we need a little contribution further towards the building of the Argyle International Airport,” Gonsalves said.

“I just want you to be emphatic and straightforward that the tax is essentially an Argyle Airport tax, which is basically what it is,” Leacock then said, to which the Prime Minister responded in the negative.

Leacock: “You are not saying that?”

Gonsalves: “No, I’m not saying that. It is not an Argyle airport tax.”

“You think an additional $10 could make a very significant difference?” Gonsalves questioned.

He explained that the government saw an opportunity to revise the departure tax after a new method of collecting the tax was announced.

The revised departure tax will be incorporated into the total cost of an airline ticket and according to Gonsalves, the majority of the Vincentian public would have said that a perfect opportunity presented itself to increase the departure tax now that a new method of collecting the tax had been implemented.

“I know the people of this country … I know how they would respond in the taverns and in the churches … I know how they would respond,” Gonsalves said.

He reminded the House that it was the Opposition New Democratic Party, back in October 1984, which had implemented a five per cent ticket tax.

“It didn’t exist before, and at the time, they said that it was to help with maintenance costs and to run the airport,” the Prime Minister explained.

The bill to approve an increase in the departure tax was approved on Tuesday; the airport departure tax now stands at EC$50 (US$19). (DD)

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