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    March 20

  • 11:17 PM

SHANTAL MUNRO-KNIGHT: A look at travel taxes


Added 07 June 2015


AS SOON AS I saw the Nation newspaper story about Barbados having the lowest comparable departure tax in the region, my immediate response was to say oh no.

I really felt it was a bad move to give this Government any ideas about possible avenues for increasing taxes. The last few budgets have proven that the Government is inclined to use its power to tax with great impunity, and with very few areas left which remain untouched, the mere mention of a possibility might encourage ideas.

However, after this initial reaction, I became very annoyed and at the same time curious. While I am unsure of the nature of the discussions on the departure tax, what I am clear about at this point is that regardless of the how relatively low or high the tax is, the current level is creating a fundamental barrier to travel in the region. The article prompted me to look a little bit deeper at the taxes that we are called as customers to pay. Look at the make-up of the taxes in these two tickets, one from St Lucia to Guyana and the other from Barbados to Guyana. 

With some of the taxes, you cannot even understand what it is we are paying for. I would be grateful if someone can explain why it appears we are paying a passenger service charge and a service fee. What is the difference between the two and what is a facilitation charge? More importantly, how are the monies from the taxes allocated and where does the revenue from the service charge and the service fee go?

Base Fare:                                            586.00 USD

FIS (SLU-BGI):                                      10.00 USD

SLU Airport Svc Charge (SLU-BGI):          25.19 USD

YR (SLU-BGI):                                        1.25 USD

BGI P.F.C. (SLU-BGI):                             1.50 USD

SLU Security Charge (SLU-BGI):              4.82 USD

YRR (SLU-BGI):                                      20.00 USD

BGI Passenger Svc Charge (SLU-BGI):      5.00 USD

BGI Security Fee (SLU-BGI):                    3.20 USD

SLU Ticket Tax (SLU-BGI):                       21.98 USD


FIS (OGL-BGI):                                      10.00 USD

YR (OGL-BGI):                                       1.25 USD

BGI P.F.C. (OGL-BGI):                            1.50 USD

YRR (OGL-BGI):                                     20.00 USD

BGI Passenger Svc Charge (OGL-BGI):     5.00 USD

BGI Security Fee (OGL-BGI):                   3.20 USD

SLU Ticket Tax (OGL-BGI):                      21.98 USD

SLU P.F.C. (OGL-BGI):                            5.00 USD

SLU Facilitation Charge (OGL-BGI):          0.37 USD


Total Fare Price:                                     747.24 USD

1 Adult                                                  $170.00 USD

Taxes/Fees [details]                               $81.70 USD

Fuel Surcharge                                       $10.00 USD

Security Surcharge                                 $1.25 USD

BGI Passenger Svc Charge                      $27.50 USD

BGI Security Fee                                    $3.20 USD

Service Fee                                            $10.00 USD

BGI Ticket Tax                                       $29.75 USD

1 Adult                                                  $145.00 USD

Taxes/Fees [details]                               $48.13 USD

Fuel Surcharge                                      $10.00 USD

Security Surcharge                                $1.25 USD

BGI P.F.C.                                             $1.50 USD

Service Fee                                           $10.00 USD

BGI Ticket Tax                                      $25.38 USD

Given my own perceptions of the volume of the traffic coming through the airports, I think there could be sufficient case for Caribbean citizens to be given shares in the various airports across the region. This is a serious proposal, given the amount of money we are paying out. I think that we are contributing significantly in the upkeep of the airports and therefore should have a major say in how they are run. Most of the airports across the region are in poor condition and in need of an upgrade, including the relatively recent Barbados airport.

If I get started about the poor design and construction of our airport, this article will not have an end. (You could imagine that because of poor design we now have to employ people to stand for a whole day between two doors in an effort to prevent security breaches). Perhaps this is where the security surcharge or no, perhaps this is where the security fee is going. So that while indeed we should not let LIAT off the hook for their own efficiencies, our governments have some questions to answer concerning the applied fees and surface charges. 

Can we find out how much money is generated from the applied taxes annually? Can we know where exactly the money goes? Can we find out how it has led to any airport improvements? Can we have some audited accounts, please? I am just asking in the name of accountability.

Shantal Munro-Knight is a development specialist and executive coordinator at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre. Email shantalmunro@gmail.com


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