(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.