updated 6:19 PM PDT, Sep 5, 2017
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LIAT Tells Passengers to Pay BVI Levy

Last Friday 1st September as the Environmental and Tourism Levy took effect in the Territory, regional airline LIAT informed its passengers that they were required to pay the $10 upon arrival.

The airline, in an advisory issued on Friday told its customers that the Levy is for arriving passengers who are not resident in the territory; and is not included in their ticket price. Therefore, LIAT told the passengers that the Levy will be collected by the Customs Department via cash or credit/debit cards.

The $10.00 Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund levy that was passed with amendments on April 18th in the House of Assembly. During the presentation of the objects and reasons of the Bill Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith explained that Clause 3 of the Bill calls for visitors to pay a $10.00 fee whether they arrive by air or sea: 

“An environmental levy at the rate of $10 shall be levied on and payable by each visitor arriving in the Virgin Islands by air or sea. A specified sum of money shall be included in the cost of a ticket collected by the owner, master or any agent for any vessel, or by any person through whom passengers are brought into the Virgin Islands,” the Premier said.

This fee, the Premier said will go towards funding environmental protection  efforts and tourism industry needs:  “The Minister shall direct that the monies of the fund be applied towards activities related to environmental protection improvement, climate change and other matters affecting the environment, the maintenance and development of tourism sites and other tourism-related activities throughout the territory, and the marketing of the territory as a premier tourist destination,” Hon. Smith pointed out.

Checks and Balances for Cleanup Work

Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Communications and Works, Anthony McMaster announced that the Ministry and the Public Works Department are implementing checks and balances to ensure that the many contractors that are assisting the Territory with the cleanup and recovery are fairly compensated and the Treasury is safeguarded.

In an interview aired this week Mr. McMaster said that special rates were established to pay the contractors. “We have established rates just for this post tropical wave cleanup process, because we do realize that there are some areas where the persons might have to work a little harder than you would normally work in a day; because we are trying to get the Territory back in order in a very short time period,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary said that accountability and transparency is a big part of the process, and in this regard he said that a form was created to manage the work properly. “What we’ve done is because we have so many people out there working. In order to ensure we have a fully transparent system we’ve established a form, which is basically a task order form. Whereby the Director of Public Works and his team along with the project supervisors on the ground would normally submit the forms along with picture IDs of the persons who are working.”

“That form is signed by the individual who is working, the foreman on the ground, and the individual from public works who is supervising the particular job at that point in time. That [signed form] goes to the Director before it is submitted to the Ministry for processing,” the PS said.

Despite the various security mechanisms Mr. McMaster said that there is still room for errors.  “We know when you have to hire hundreds of people within a short span of time there’s a lot of room for errors. There’s a lot of room for persons to try and beat the system, both persons internal to the system and persons external to the system,” the PS stated.

Nonetheless, the Permanent Secretary said that the Ministry and Department continue to be diligent in its management of the recovery works. “What we are trying to do is put a system in place that would sort of keep everybody above board so that we can report at the end of the day and feel confident in the report that we’ve produced.”

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