“Confused by airline tax”

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The present Government must be most heartily congratulated for its stunning performance in the recent General Election which saw the emergence of a very energetic lady, Miss Mia Amor Mottley, as Prime Minister of Barbados. 

I did not find it necessary to listen to the Mini-Budget debate in its entirety in Parliament as like all but a few disgruntled Barbadians, I felt sure that the new Prime Minister and Minister of Finance would do what was right for Barbados and hopefully find ways to curb the overly generous concessions provided to a select few in the past; but I must draw attention to something which found its way into the Budget.

I left the island a week after elections and was jolted by the request of a young lady at the airline check-in counter for foreign currency or a credit card for the payment of one piece of checked baggage. I did eventually pay as indicated, $35 in Canadian currency, but not before issuing a stern warning that the law was being flouted, in that the sole currency officially acknowledged as legal tender in Barbados is Barbadian currency.

Consequently, any time it was refused in settlement of debt or charges in Barbados, such a contravention of the law could result in the debt or charges being invalidated as long as payment in Barbadian currency was proffered in appropriate denominations and was refused. 

To add to the confusion, on the return journey the same airline made me pay CAN$25 in Toronto on June 8 for the same piece of checked baggage, and if a call is made to Grantley Adams International Airport today to the Canadian airline on which I was transported, the charge will be quoted as US$25.

This also raises the question as to whether our legislation should or can impose charges through our Parliament by exclusive reference to the US dollar, as was recently done without first stipulating the amount in Barbados dollars. It is recognised that international monetary arrangements facilitate trade between sovereign nations by a regulatory process in which foreign currencies are bought and sold like other commodities, but with due reference to the Barbados dollar.

Is it true that all currency notes issued by the Central Bank of Barbados clearly state “these notes are legal tender for the payment of any amount”, a statement understood to be also applicable to Barbadian coins which are not so encrypted because of the physical difficulties involved in inscribing such small pieces of metal? 

In the absence therefore of proper legislation and public notification of any changes permitting the precedence of other countries’ currency in Barbados, is it possible that legally inclined persons can refuse to pay the new taxes?

– PAT S.R. CALLENDER