At a time when the decision-making of the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) is being questioned by the public, government has announced its intention to merge it with another statutory body.
It is to be merged with the BVI Airports Authority.
According to Premier Andrew Fahie, the merger is largely a financial decision.
He said: “During the upcoming year, it is our aim to bring legislation to merge the BVI Airports Authority and the BVI Ports Authority into a single entity. This will reduce the operations cost for these two bodies, thereby improving efficiency and effectiveness, which will lead to an increase in revenue.”
The Premier, who was speaking in the House of Assembly last week, described the venture as “innovation” and “progress”.
The BVIPA has been facing heavy public criticism for introducing major price increases to its fees.
The Authority promised to review the hike after receiving public backlash but returned weeks later with a new decision to introduce the fees in a ‘phased approach’.
The first phase commenced on Monday, March 15 with the introduction of new fees for licenses (Customs broker and Agent), storage, wharfage, line handling, container fees, and fees for vehicles accessing port facilities.
Higher cost of living
Since the increases, BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Association has outlined instances where the BVIPA had increased some of the fees by 500 per cent, where fees jumped from $500 to $2,500.
With such hikes that will affect the importation of all goods into the territory, the main concern raised by business owners is that it would increase the cost of most items in BVI.
This would therefore further raise the cost of living in an already impacted economy battling the effects of COVID-19.
The BVIPA says the increases has “become necessary for the provision of important upgrades to the operations of the ports”. It says these upgrades which will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the ports to deliver on promised services.
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