Caricom considers imposing tourist fee

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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