London could revisit air passenger tax
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar Friday held talks with her British counterpart David Cameron on the controversial Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax that will be further increased at the start of next month, according to an official statement issued here.
Currently, each economy class traveller to the Caribbean pays £50 (US$77) in APD. But from November 1, this will increase to £75 (US $115) – the second in as many years. The levy for premium economy, business and first class passengers will rise from £100 (US$154) to £150 (US$291).
The statement said that Persad Bissessar, who is in London attending several meetings of the Commonwealth, raised the APD that is viewed by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries “as detrimental to their economies”.
“Both Prime Minister Cameron and Foreign Minister Hague were impressed with the strength of the argument put forward by Prime Minister Bissessar on the issue of the APD and have given a commitment to impress upon the Treasury to revisit the level of these duties.
“The British leader was keen to show that the Caribbean was important to him and his government and gave the assurance that the UK/Caribbean forum would be held next year,” the statement said.
Last month a high level CTO delegation travelled to London to meet with members of David Cameroon coalition government urging a reconsideration of the new tax. But the delegation, which included Caribbean tourism ministers, returned home without getting Britain to reduce the tax and warning that it n could have disastrous effects on the regional tourism industry.
The statement said that on the issue of the Commonwealth, Prime Minister Cameron was also keen to support and strengthen the Commonwealth and address some of the issues raised by Prime Minister Bissessar especially as it relates to poorer states and children. It said that Foreign Minister Dr. Surujanatan Rambachan took the opportunity to “raise the issue of criteria for student visas which has been a concern for students in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Prime Minister Cameron gave the assurance that Minister Rambachan’s concerns would be addressed,” the statement added. (CMC)