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No free ride, warns Sinckler

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has warned that the removal of taxes on travel within the region is not a clear-cut matter.

In fact, he is cautioning that the region needs to tread very carefully in the face of calls by a local businessman for a reduction in airport charges and for Barbadian pensioners, 65 years and over, to be exempt from paying such charges.

The call from regular traveler and airline commentator Robert Pitcher comes on the heels of a suggestion from aviation officials from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for the taxes on air travel within the sub-grouping to be removed.

At a recent meeting in Antigua, the officials zeroed in on the findings of a study on factors inhibiting inter-regional travel. Host Minister of Tourism Asot Michael reported that arrivals from within the OECS to Antigua and Barbuda had declined by five per cent last year.

Pitcher blames the fall off on “the dramatic increase” in the cost of air travel since 2008/2009.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler

“In fact, the reduction in intra-regional travel coincides with the escalation in ticket prices from those years,” he argued, while admitting that other issues, including security, needed to be addressed.

Arguing that the problem of high travel taxes was region wide, Pitcher said: “It needs removing from Trinidad, Barbados and Guyana. All of the other Caribbean countries [as well].”

He noted that passengers travelling from the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) on LIAT were subjected to a number of fees, including a passenger service charge of US$27.50, a security fee of US$3.20, as well as a ticket tax that varies.

“It was about nine years ago when major upgrades were carried out at the airport that the fee structure changed. I am not saying we should remove it totally,” he told Barbados TODAY.

“The departure fee in Barbados over the years went from $20 to $25, but we more than doubled it. I want them to reduce the taxes to what it was before, to 25 Barbados dollars for people from birth up to age 64. And at age 65, no departure taxes for that pensioner, similar to Trinidad,” he explained.

The businessman said he believed that such a move would encourage more people to travel.

“If you continue to take everything from the consumer, you do not give the consumer any money to spend, so there is no spending power within the country to rejuvenate the industry because you keep taking until one day you can’t take at all,” Pitcher said.

Asked to respond to Pitcher’s comments, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, although not dismissing the idea of a reduction in airport fees, warned that it was not a straight forward matter≥

In fact, he said a number of factors had to taken into consideration when determining a new tax or fee structure, including the cost of aviation fuel, wages and the volume of passengers.

“It is not just saying, ‘go to the Minister of Finance or Government and ask that the tax be reduced’. That is okay and that is perhaps desirable, but it is really not as simple as that. So any such desire or intention would have to be seriously studied and considered before any such thing is done,” he warned.

“ . . . So while everyone would welcome a reduction in prices because we want to be able to ensure that regional travel is sufficient to justify having a regional carrier like LIAT and to encourage movement of people and economic and social integration and economic growth and development in the region, it has to be done in a way that does not destroy the bases on which these things have been constructed. So we have to look at it in a holistic way,” he stated.

10 Responses to No free ride, warns Sinckler

  1. Leeann Jordan
    Leeann Jordan April 30, 2015 at 4:49 am

    Mr Pitcher is correct spending power needs to increase and not stiffened; or we would never be able to see the light.

  2. Tony Webster April 30, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Holistic Holy Flying Cows, Batman!! For a change-of-tune…I agree wid Hon. Gentleman: careful how you bell dat drat LIAT cat! Or NEWCO cat! It’s a tight squeeze everyehere these daze, sorry, days: dancing a fine line, between Church Village overdarft; 2013 inc-tax refunds; Al Barrack; and barracking evah day in de press; pressing credit-calls from dem Pharmacists to clear-off dem back-logs… not to memtion dem ratings folks always cleaning and checking dem sharp knives, swords, guns, and tongues …etc and ad naseum…man, it’s enough to put a guy off his food! Did any of the carping idiots (like me) remember how easy it is to remove ONE card…after you had so cleverly built a big-able “house” of 52 cards? Give the Hon. guy a break, please..I for one, applaud his new -found healthy “corpus”: he’s gonna feel like a twenty-something “new” old guy (jes like me) and we’re both gonna start walking daily, chatting up de ladies as we go….and solving all those nagging li’l problems. We might even discuss de BIG PARTY thing jes’ round de corner… de new $10 M up-grade to George Street; an de who will be President of The Land of The Well-And-Truly-Fried-Fish.

  3. Sheldon Cox
    Sheldon Cox April 30, 2015 at 5:12 am

    With all the taxes we pay. What free ride we getting

  4. Dennis Connell
    Dennis Connell April 30, 2015 at 6:40 am

    Chris gets the free rides. The state pays for his.

  5. Philip Matthews
    Philip Matthews April 30, 2015 at 6:40 am

    Wonder what new tax they will create this year ? , and where they will spend the money ?

  6. Alex Alleyne April 30, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Everyone knows that the cost to Island hop taking LIAT is way too much . FIND A WAY TO REDUCE IT.

  7. Candy Gordon
    Candy Gordon April 30, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I want my 2 years of income tax

  8. Charmaine April 30, 2015 at 9:03 am

    For once, the officials got it right. Regional travel is way too high. It costs more to travel throughout the region than it does to the US; to Antigua in particular. I have friends and family in various Caribbean Islands, and would gladly travel more if the prices weren’t so ridiculous.
    And @ Mr. Sinckler: I understand that you, or the Barbados government can’t afford to lose any money right now, hence your words of “caution”. However, what you lose in immediate tax collection may be made up in the increased volume of travellers.

    • Anthony April 30, 2015 at 11:17 am

      The taxes are not the only reason why tickets prices are high. What stops the airlines from increase cost of the tickets in other areas?

  9. Trident Black
    Trident Black April 30, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Some of these fools for politicians make me sick.They always get up in some heads of government meeting pining for regional integration and whenever something is in the works to make it a reality they always have some warning.


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