LONDON, England (JIS)
Caribbean countries will be working with other states and regions, such as India, New Zealand and Africa, to increase the pressure on the British government to reform the Airline Passenger Duty (APD) regimeJamaica’s tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett told a meeting of United Kingdom-based Jamaicans, that Caribbean tourism ministers have formed a coalition of “like minds” to increase the lobby for reforms to the APD tax.
Bartlett, along with six other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) tourism ministers and delegates from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), are meeting in London this week to discuss how the CTO can step up the APD lobby.
“So, this mission is about a coalition of like minds. It is about those agencies and groups who are also affected negatively, either in the same way or in a greater way, by this reform to the APD,” the minister said.
He pointed out that so far the group has had a number of productive meetings and one thing that has been agreed on, is that the lobbying by the Diaspora should continue.
“We have agreed to continue to mobilise the Caribbean Diaspora throughout the UK to continue to pressure their representative in Whitehall (the UK Parliament) to get action on this matter. In addition, we are going to be working with countries like India and New Zealand to get their Diaspora to apply the same pressure,” Bartlett said.
In addition, he said a technical committee will be formed to research the impact that the APD will have on countries outside the UK. “The committee will do the necessary research to provide a body of empirical data to present to the Treasury of the UK, with the impact that the APD is having on countries outside of the UK and on the UK itself. Because it is our view that the APD will prove to be a negative revenue tax,” he added.
The APD is set to increase on November 1 from £50 to £75 per person for economy class seats and from £100 to £150 in premium economy, business and first class.
Bartlett told the meeting that the APD places a destination like Hawaii, which is twice the distance from London than Kingston, in a lower rate because the US capital is Washington
The APD is billed as an environmental tax by the British government, which places countries in charging bands based on the distance of their capital cities from London. This means that flying from London to Los Angeles or Hawaii in the US is calculated as being the same as to Washington D.C. (B and B), while destinations in the Caribbean are charged at a higher rate of tax (in band C).
Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean have argued that this is an unfair tax, which puts the region at an economic disadvantage, and have been lobbying for the region to be placed in the same lower band as the United States.
Reprinted from Caribbean News Now!