Antigua's PM calls for tax cuts in airline ticket prices in the region

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Antigua's PM calls for tax cuts in airline ticket prices in the region

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http://jamaica-star.com/article/news/20 ... ces-region

Antigua's PM calls for tax cuts in airline ticket prices in the region
June 07, 2021

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, says the coronavirus (COVID019) pandemic has provided the Caribbean governments with the opportunity to implement tax cuts for airline tickets across the region.

“Now is the time for us to cut the taxes even by 50 per cent and I do accept that you may not be able to determine the elasticity of pricing on travel demand because naturally regional and intra-regional remain relatively low during this period of COVID.

“But the fact that you are not collecting, or you hardly collecting anything at this time it is not revenue you are giving away. You can’t give away what you are not earning,” said Browne, who intends to his use chairmanship of the regional integration movement, CARICOM, next month to push the initiative.

He said the leaders of the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are supportive of the initiative since there are other financial benefits to be obtained as a result.

“I have said to my colleagues within the OECS that now is the time. I can tell you that my colleagues are looking at it seriously and I believe we should be able to convince them to do something now,” Browne said, adding that the cut in taxes could be for a temporary period.

“It could even be for a temporary period. If we say, look between now and the end of the year to 12 months I have no doubt that one, it will result in incremental revenue and at the same time it will also give us some idea…maybe the price elasticity of these tickets…that carry a heavy component in terms of government taxes.

“I am of the view too that is one of the ways to incentivize fully vaccinated persons. We can have a bubble involving fully vaccinated persons to allow them to check travel intra-regionally and without any quarantine. So there are multiple benefits by introducing such a policy. I so accept it is something that should have been done before but I believe that again COVID has given us the opportunity to do it now,” Browne said.

Many regional countries are now re-opening their borders as they emerge from the impact of the coronavirus on their respective economies. They had closed down their borders in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus that has killed and infected thousands in the English-speaking Caribbean region.

In May last year, the airline trade group, IATA, urged Caribbean governments to cut passenger taxes if they wanted to benefit from the post pandemic recovery.

IATA’s regional VP for the Americas, Peter Cerda, said some regional countries risk losing market share when travel resumes and that some airlines will be reluctant to return to some Caribbean destinations if pricing is not competitive.

“One of the biggest problems that we’ve always faced in Caribbean is it is a very highly taxed market. And it’s always taxed on the airline side, on the passenger, consumer side. And this will be a big challenge for the Caribbean once we are able to escape from this crisis,” Cerda said.

One month later, Grenada’s Tourism Minister Dr Clarice Modeste-Curwen, said the Caribbean market must be seen as critical to the rebuilding process.

Modeste-Curwen said, there was need for a review of the taxes on intra-Caribbean travel and how these taxes impact the desire for travel among the people of the region.

“It has been said by a number of individuals who are more familiar with the airline industry than I am, that the taxes that are charged on tickets in the region . . . kill the desire to have more inter-Caribbean travel, because the cost of a ticket to go to a nearby island sometimes is almost the same or more than going further afield like the US or otherwise, or you just have to add a little more.

“I think as a Caribbean region, we’ve done a lot of wonderful things together and it’s one of the things that we must keep on the table, enhancing, improving intra-Caribbean travel, and it’s one of the things maybe we as ministers should put a stronger case to our prime ministers to see what can happen,” she said.

Browne also commented on the efforts by a non-government organisation to write regional governments urging them to implement the tax cuts. The group had secured nearly 20,000 signatures in its bid to get the governments to act.

“I can tell you that at the time, it represented a challenge even for Antigua and Barbuda because our travel taxes were securing a loan of US$94 million…..So to cut it by 50 per cent would have been difficult even though we were looking at the possibility of reducing the taxes by about 25 per cent at the time”

He said there were other governments with similar situations and that would have limited their ability to cut travel taxes.
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Re: Antigua's PM calls for tax cuts in airline ticket prices in the region

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A little late for that NOW, isn't it, King Gaston? You could have been pushing for this years ago when everybody else was calling for it - but have nothing to say until your own derriere is almost grass.

I really do hope you lose the next election, politician loser...
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Re: Antigua's PM calls for tax cuts in airline ticket prices in the region

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https://antiguaobserver.com/pm-browne-t ... -chairman/

PM Browne to push for reduction of intra-regional travel taxes as Caricom chairman
Orville Williams
Jun 8, 2021

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has announced his intention to lobby further for a reduction in regional air travel taxes, when he takes on the role of Caricom chairman next month.

The issue of high travel taxes has been a vexing one for many Caribbean nationals and, despite many public pleas and acknowledgement on the part of regional officials, there has been no significant movement in this regard for several years.

In late 2019, a group called the ‘Caribbean Citizens Against High Intra-Regional Travel Taxes’ started a petition for a tax reduction that gathered nearly 20,000 signatures, according to reports.

The group also indicated in a subsequent letter to Caricom leaders that studies have shown intraregional travel would increase considerably if the governments were to reduce the appropriate taxes, fees and charges (TFCs).

Prime Minister Browne – who was said to be one of the first regional leaders to respond to the group’s letter back then – revealed during a discussion on Twitter on the weekend that he would be assuming the leadership of Caricom next month, and that advocating for the reduction of the travel taxes would be on his agenda.

He insisted that the ongoing pandemic has provided a window for that reduction to be attempted, due to the suspension of financial commitments for most regional airports.

“When you look at the fact that Covid has literally provided the opportunity for us to have a debt standstill, in that most of these airport loans are not being serviced at this time; the fact too that there’s practically little revenue from intraregional travel, I’m of the view – I raised this point at the level of the OECS and certainly will be driving it home when I take over the chairmanship of Caricom in July – that now is the time for us to cut the tax, even by 50 percent.

“I do accept that you may not be able to determine the elasticity of pricing on travel demand, because intraregional travel will remain relatively low during this period of Covid, but the fact that you’re hardly collecting anything at this point, it is not revenue you’re giving away. You can’t give away what you’re not earning.”

Many would argue that Browne’s assertions should be taken with a grain of salt, given the statements made by several regional leaders on the matter in the past have not resulted in any tangible outcomes.

The PM accepted that moves should have been made long ago to rectify the situation, but pointed to some issues that prevented Antigua and Barbuda and other territories from taking the plunge.

“At the time it represented a challenge, even for Antigua and Barbuda, because our travel taxes for example were securing a loan of US$94 million that was actually incurred by the former administration.

“So, to cut [the taxes] by 50 percent would have been difficult, even though we were looking at the possibility of even reducing the travel taxes by about 25 percent at the time. There are other governments within the region that have similar hypothecation of revenue which would have limited the extent to which they could cut travel taxes, because these revenues were previously assigned,” Browne explained.

He said, however, the attitudes toward the potential reduction are much more positive at this point, with many benefits to be gained by all involved.

“I can tell you that my colleagues are looking at it seriously and I believe that we should be able to convince them to do something now. It could even be for a temporary period, if we say that we do it between now and the end of the year…I have no doubt [that] it will result in incremental revenues and at the same time, give us – not quite a fully accurate reflection, but – some idea of the price elasticity of these tickets, which obviously carry a heavy component in terms of government taxes.

“I’m of the view too, that it is one of the ways to incentivise fully vaccinated persons. We can have a bubble involving fully vaccinated persons, to allow them to travel intra-regionally and without any quarantine.

“There are multiple benefits [to] introducing such a policy, so I accept that it’s something that should have been done before. I believe that, again, Covid has given us the opportunity to do it now and we ought to do so.”

According to the organiser of the discussion, Kevz Politics, PM Browne’s participation on Twitter’s newest service – Spaces – was history-making, as he became the first Caricom head of government to utilise the service.
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CARICOM´s new president will promote a reduction of up to 50% in air rates within the Caribbean

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https://www.aviacionline.com/2021/06/ca ... caribbean/

CARICOM´s new president will promote a reduction of up to 50% in air rates within the Caribbean
Gianfranco Durante
10/06/2021

The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, announced his personal intention to continue pushing for a reduction in regional taxes on air travel, once he takes place as president of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) next month.

High taxes on these trips have always been a problem for many Caribbean citizens. Despite many public requests and the recognition of these by officials in the region, there were no major movements related with this situation in several years.

‘Caribbean citizens against high intraregional travel taxes’ was called the group that at the end of 2019 initiated a request to reduce taxes that gathered almost 20,000 signatures, according to the newspaper Antigua Observer.

Prime Minister Browne, who was one of the first leaders to respond to this organization’s letter, explained during a discussion on Twitter this weekend that advocating for lowering air travel rates will be in his priorities.

He insisted that the pandemic we are experiencing provided an opportunity to try that reduction due to the suspension of financial commitments for most of the regional airports.

“When we look at the fact that Covid has literally given us the opportunity to pause debt, as most of these airport loans are not being paid at this time, and also the fact that there is practically little income from intra-regional travel, I am part of the opinion – I raised this point at the OECS level and will certainly take it up when I take over the presidency of Caricom in July – that it is time for us to reduce taxes, even up to 50 percent,» Brown said.

The newspaper Antigua Observer mentioned that Browne’s statements should be taken with a grain of salt, given that this has been promised by several regional leaders without obtaining any result. The chief president accepted that he should have taken measures a long time ago to rectify the situation, but pointed out the problems that prevented Antigua and Barbuda and other territories from taking the plunge.
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Re: Antigua's PM calls for tax cuts in airline ticket prices in the region

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All he has to do is reduce the taxes, fees and airport departure charges (nothing to with the airline) and that is achievable. For several decades the governments have used the airline industry as a cash cow, ignoring every input about the danger of inflating travel costs to the point where regional and local airlines are put out of business.

And since he is such a powerhouse in CARICOM now, is it not time that he respect the Multilateral Air Services Agreement and send interCaribbean - based in a British Overseas Territory 1,000 miles away - home?
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Re: Antigua's PM calls for tax cuts in airline ticket prices in the region

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https://antiguanewsroom.com/pm-says-ant ... ine-taxes/

PM says Antigua will be the first to announce major cut in airline taxes
June 12, 20210

Prime Minister Gaston Browne says Antigua and Barbuda will lead from the front in the reduction of airline taxes for regional travel by as much as 50 per cent.

Browne who is the incoming Chairman of CARICOM says he will push his colleagues to do the same but he won’t wait on them.
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