Sunday 25 October, 2020

CARICOM Ambassador says hefty air taxes need to be re-examined

(From Left) INO Podcast host Marcus Myers; Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong; Kofi Jones ,co-host of INO Podcast.

(From Left) INO Podcast host Marcus Myers; Barbados Ambassador to CARICOM David Comissiong; Kofi Jones ,co-host of INO Podcast.

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Caribbean countries to re-examine intra-regional travel and seek solutions to the high travel taxes problem.

In a recent interview on Barbadian-based podcast, INO Podcast with hosts Marcus Myers and Kofi Jones, Barbados Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), David Comissiong indicated that the Caribbean Governments have realised it was a "mistake" to heavily tax air travel in the region. 

"All the governments now recognise that air travel within the region is too high and because the tickets are too high - it is counterproductive.

"We all recognise that now, but the problem is that government budgets in several countries have come so much to rely on the revenue derived from those tickets, so the question is, how can we transition to other forms of tax revenue, and that is the troubling issue," Comissiong remarked. 

He added: "Everybody agrees now that it was a mistake to start putting these government taxes, but how can we rectify it?"

The Barbados Ambassador stated that air travel was heavily taxed in the Caribbean with more than 50 per cent of the fees being taxed. 

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He contended that the pandemic has forced heads of state "to find the answers to tough questions", with travel and tourism suffering a blistering blow from closed borders, travel restrictions, and reduced arrivals.

He held that there was "valuableness" in intra-regional travel and Governments will soon be forced to re-examine the taxation on travel. 

"With all the obstacles to tourism now, we in Barbados are going to be trying to convince our Caribbean brothers and sisters particularly the ones in the low-risk countries [to visit]. No longer can you go to New York or London for holiday, come to Barbados - You want a vacation? Come here! 

"We are going to recognise more and more the valuableness of intra-regional travel and it is going to make us take those hard decisions about finding ways to reduce or tax off those taxes."

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