Persons departing St. Vincent and the Grenadines via aircraft will soon pay an increase in the airport departure tax.
Presenting his Budget address in Parliament yesterday evening, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said the Airport Service Charge on passengers leaving St. Vincent and the Grenadines which currently is EC$50, will be doubled to $100 effective February 15, 2017, one day after the Argyle International Airport (AIA) is opened.
The Prime Minister said the annual estimated cost of operating Argyle International Airport will be EC$20 million, some 13 million dollars more than currently obtains at E.T. Joshua Airport.
In announcing the reason for this increase in the departure tax which is expected to yield approximately EC$5 million per year, Dr. Gonsalves said the expected revenue in the short to medium term from the Airport Service Charge, landing and parking fees, rentals and other charges will cover approximately 50% of the figure at the AIA.
He said the Central Government is providing a subvention of EC$5 million in 2017, which will be insufficient to fun the shortfall.
He noted, however, that it is anticipated that as traffic at Argyle International Airport increases the extent of the subvention will decrease or cease.
Dr. Gonsalves said this increase in the Airport Service Charge on passengers leaving St. Vincent and the Grenadines will yield approximately EC$5 million per year.
He explained that even at EC$100, the Airport Service Charge on passengers departing this country is still lower than that of the overwhelming number of Caricom member states.