Caricom considers imposing tourist fee

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Caricom considers imposing tourist fee
Dr Keith Rowley after he returned from the Caricom Heads of Government 40th regular meeting in St Lucia. Anisto Alves

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — Cari­com is propos­ing at­tach­ing a fee to the air­line and cruise ship tick­ets of tourists to help fund re­gion­al se­cu­ri­ty in­sti­tu­tions.

This was re­vealed by Dr Kei­th Row­ley in a press con­fer­ence at the VIP lounge at the Pi­ar­co In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port yes­ter­day.

The Prime Min­is­ter had just re­turned from the 40th reg­u­lar meet­ing of the Cari­com heads of gov­ern­ment in St Lu­cia.

Row­ley said that many na­tions had dif­fi­cul­ty keep­ing up with re­quired pay­ments for re­gion­al se­cu­ri­ty or­gan­i­sa­tions like IM­PACS (Im­ple­ment­ing Agency for Crime and Se­cu­ri­ty).

“The IM­PACS staff has not been paid even though they are at work,” said the Prime Min­is­ter.

This coun­try pays an es­ti­mat­ed $10 mil­lion to IM­PACS an­nu­al­ly. The larg­er the size of the Cari­com mem­ber state, the larg­er the ex­pect­ed con­tri­bu­tion.

“But in­vari­ably these in­sti­tu­tions have fund­ing dif­fi­cul­ties be­cause some ter­ri­to­ries do not pay up or do not pay up at a par­tic­u­lar time,” said Row­ley, who ad­mit­ted that many of the Cari­com states were fac­ing eco­nom­ic dif­fi­cul­ties and as such the fee, first nom­i­nal­ly placed at US$5 dol­lars was pro­posed.

Row­ley said many mem­ber states did not agree with the fee which was even­tu­al­ly brought down to US$2.

“We took a de­ci­sion that coun­tries should be al­lowed to make that de­ci­sion at the na­tion­al lev­el,” said Row­ley, who said the mat­ter would be dis­cussed fur­ther.

The fund­ing is­sues al­so af­fect­ed Cari­com coun­tries con­tribut­ing to the CSME fund. This coun­try, he ad­mit­ted, was li­able for US$40m but had a pay­ment plan in place.

The Prime Min­is­ter al­so an­nounced that he would stand be­fore the Unit­ed Na­tions Gen­er­al As­sem­bly for the first time in Sep­tem­ber. He said it was im­por­tant that he ad­dress the as­sem­bly giv­en the coun­try’s stance on the Venezue­lan sit­u­a­tion.

Be­fore at­tend­ing the As­sem­bly, he said, he al­so plans to meet with US of­fi­cials in Wash­ing­ton.

The Cari­com lead­ers, he said, al­so had con­cerns about po­ten­tial de-list­ing of Caribbean banks.

“We need the Amer­i­can bank­ing sys­tem to be told how bank­ing op­er­ates in the Caribbean and we should not be black­list­ed, “ said the Prime Min­is­ter.

Ad­dress­ing the lo­cal is­sue fol­low­ing the fir­ing of Camille Camp­bell, the CEO at Trinidad Tourism Ltd, the Prime Min­is­ter said the Gov­ern­ment had a re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to take charge of the mat­ter.

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