The BVI Port Authority (BVIPA) will be rolling back the majority of its upcoming increased fees that were scheduled to take effect May 2021.
Minister responsible for ports, Premier Andrew Fahie announced this news in a public broadcast Thursday evening, April 8. He said the fee increases will now be postponed until 2022.
He did not specify when next year the increases will be reinstated or what fee increases (the minority) would move forward as planned come next month.
The BVIPA recently explained that the increases were necessary for the Authority to upgrade its facilities and maintain its shipping certification from the International Maritime Organization.
Banking on cruise tourism to fill the revenue gaps
Now that the fee increases have been postponed, Premier Fahie said the BVIPA will be banking on areas to generate revenue for the time being.
“The return of cruise tourism along with other proposed revenue streams are projected to allow the BVI Port Authority to adequately function for now until our economy continues to rebound in this new regular of living and working with COVID-19,” Fahie explained.
“[But] we can’t run from this forever. We will have to find a way to do what is necessary while softening the impact it will have on the population. I thank the BVI Port Authority and its board for being considerate of the people’s needs through their recent decision to suspend the majority of all fee increases,” added Fahie, who last week promised to review the increases.
Increases that are already instituted
In the meantime, this postponement follows several weeks of public backlash about the fee increases during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has largely crippled the BVI’s economy.
After the initial backlash when the increases were first announced, the Authority reviewed the proposed hikes and decided to move forward in a “phased approach”.
The changes commenced last month (March 15) with increases to licenses fees (Customs broker and Agent), storage fees, wharfage, line handling, container fees, [and] vehicles accessing port facilities fees.
Based on the Premier’s statement today, those increases are expected to remain.
BVI Chamber of Commerce & Hotel Association had outlined instances where the BVIPA had increased some of the fees by 500 per cent, where fees had jumped from $500 to $2,500.
With such proposed hikes that will affect the importation of all goods into the territory, the main concern raised by business owners was 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.
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