Almost everyone flying out of Barbados will have to pay either $70 or $140, depending on their destination, under legislation that significantly reduces the categories of persons exempt from paying the fee.
Broadening the base of contribution to the services and maintenance of infrastructure at the Grantley Adams International Airport is provided for under the Airport Service Charge Bill, 2022 which was passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday.
Minister of Energy and Business Development Kerrie Symmonds, who introduced the Bill, explained that only four categories of people will be exempted from paying the $70 when travelling to regional destinations – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the British Antilles, Dutch Antilles, French Antilles, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – or twice that amount when flying to other destinations.
He said while previous legislation provided for 12 specific categories of persons for exemptions and gave the Minister discretion to grant exemptions to others, the only persons who will not be required to pay the new airport service charge are: staff members of international organisations who, in accordance with the terms of the agreement of their respective organisations and the Government of Barbados, are entitled to be exempt from payment of any charges or taxes on travel taken in the performance of their duties; children under two years old; in-transit passengers in Barbados for no more than a day; and crew members of aircraft.
“That is now the limit of the exemptions,” Symmonds said.
“What we are trying to do, Sir, is to broaden the net to ensure that as many people as possible who are travelling out of Barbados to another country are liable to pay the airport service charge, as it should be.
“This administration is doing what other administrations in the history of Barbados did not choose to do, which is to remove the benefit to Members of Parliament, remove the benefit to the Senators, remove the benefits of positions of privilege and say that everybody got to pay the service charge to use the international airport,” he added.
Explaining the other changes, Symmonds said the money collected will no longer be paid into the Consolidated Fund and will not be held by the GAIA for its own purposes but will be distributed in accordance with instructions from the Ministry of Finance.
“So that entities, for example the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. are able to fuel its existence and fuel its marketing budget without it being a burden directly on the taxpayer,” he said.
Minister Symmonds also told fellow Members of Parliament that an airline that fails to pay over the airport service charge or knowingly seeks to retain the money could be fined $20 000. Under the existing legislation, that fine is $240. (DP)