Minister of Communication and Works Mark Vanterpool said the government should ensure it is made clear that cruise ship passengers will not be charged the environmental levy of $10 that the administration is seeking to implement.
Government yesterday took a major step towards making the fee a reality for visitors only; it succeeded in passing the Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act, 2017.
During a debate on the Bill, Vanterpool noted a provision regarding “persons or class of persons exempted from taxes under any enactment”.
He added, “I don’t know if that’s where we will protect our situation where the cruise ship passengers are already paying their $15 head tax, and therefore they will be exempted from this.”
Vanterpool indicated that he was not sure if such provision was adequately reflected in the Bill that proposes the environmental levy.
As such, he said an exemption for cruise ship passengers should be clearly stated in the Bill.
“We have to make sure that it is abundantly clear that anyone interpreting this [Bill] may be clear on that [exemption for cruise ship passengers]. So we want to talk about that in committee and see that we are clear on that,” Vanterpool told his parliamentary colleagues.
Other visitors will be ‘happy’ to pay
He further noted that he fully supports the proposed environmental levy that – among other things – will go towards better protecting the environment.
“I am pleased about this. We have to continue to seek to raise funds. From a business point of view, I think it is always important to raise the funds and connect it directly to what we are raising these funds for. I look forward to seeing this done.”
Vanterpool further stated that he thinks visitors will be happy to pay the new levy.
“Our tourists, I am sure, as they visit our shores, would be as our good Junior Minister for Tourism [Archibald Christian] pointed out; they will be happy to contribute towards maintaining our environment. If we collect these funds and don’t seem to be doing so, it would be another story. So we want to ensure that this happens,” Vanterpool said.
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