Should Caribbean Governments Take a New Approach on Air Taxes?

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Above: Grenada Prime Minister Keith Mitchell (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Grenada Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell is calling for a “broader task force” to address problems of regional transport in the Caribbean, including the taxation of air tickets.

Mitchell, who addressed the CARICOM Heads of Government summit in Port of Spain this week, said a task force “must include a caucus of leaders of business in the region especially the transportation sector, the airlines and shipping lines, as well as the representatives of trade unions representing workers in the transportation sector.”

“Previous attempted debates on transportation have sometimes degenerated into name calling and blame— but as we sit here today, we will come to appreciate that this tactic has not served us well,” he said. “This summit may want to consider putting in place a broader task force on transportation that will deliver results within six months.”

Transportation has been one of the major issues on the agenda for this week’s summit.

“As governments, the time has also come for us to look at our approach to taxation on travel tickets,” he said. “We must appreciate, that in most instances the taxes are so much more than the basic cost of the tickets, thus driving up the cost of intra-regional travel.”

But Mitchell said that, with more travel options, government would see increased revenue regardless.

“We will in the end, increase revenue, even with lower fees, because of the increased volume,” he said.

Earlier this month, Mitchell suggested that government air taxes were “stifling the success” of Caribbean air carrier LIAT, in an address to the OECS Summit.

 

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