ST GEORGE’S, GRENADA (CARIBUPDATE/Sept 21, 2016) - GRENADA says it is willing to consider lowering taxes on air tickets to make travel more affordable in the region.
But Prime Minister Keith Mitchell says this must be done in conjunction with other states in the region.
“If the issue is about the taxes that all of us are imposing on tickets, then we must do something about it.
“It is no point that Grenada, for example, will impose some taxes on a ticket; Barbados does it; Trinidad does it and when the pile goes up it makes it difficult to travel,” he told a press conference here Wednesday.
The Grenadian leader said the taxes on air tickets are generally too high – and it could in the end be counter-productive.
“It makes logical sense that we all should meet, reduce the taxes…and you know something, we will get more money because a lot more people will travel. Right now we are charging ourselves out of the market,” he complained.
Mitchell said the current state of intra-regional travel is undermining the stated goals of CARICOM to have a free market and free movement.
“We can’t be talking about freedom of movement, Single Market and Economy and the people cannot go from one country to the next. Nonsense. These are just words and we have to give teeth to the words, otherwise it makes no sense repeating it,” he said.
The Grenadian Prime Minister said Caribbean states should adopt an open skies policy so that more airlines could fly on the routes.
“Open skies should all be a policy we should adhere to. We are telling a plane which want to land in your country to bring passengers, no, we don’t want this one to come. Nonsense. Open the skies, create competition and you will find we won’t lose business. There is this fear we would lose tax revenue, and that’s nonsense. We don’t believe it,'' Dr Mitchell said.
The Prime Minister said Grenada needs to move urgently to do something about the difficulty it faces with regional travel. He was making the comment against the background of an announcement that LIAT will be cutting back some of its flights to the Maurice Bishop International Airport in St George's.
“We are now moving. I am discussion with Prime Minister (Allen) Chastanet (of St Lucia) and we are also talking to Trinidad about additional transport to make it easier for people to go from island to island,” he announced.
“And we also are looking at charter services and such things, because we can’t sit down and wait for LIAT to get its act together.” Dr Mitchell declared.
"Meanwhile, we will continue to do whatever we can to support LIAT but not at the expense of the travelling public in the region as a whole,” he went on.
“If it means that LIAT has five flights to Grenada, and in initial stages it is not getting enough passenger load and LIAT says to Grenada, we need you provide some subsidy for us to fly those routes, Grenada will have no difficulty. It will be just like we do with American Airlines or any other airlines during the period they do not get the kind of load factor they require,” Dr Mitchell committed.
“But I am not taking money and just say look at how many millions, spend it as you want and then I have no transport. Give me a service and I am prepared to pay. In other words they say pay to play… I am prepared to pay to play, but not pay and not get play,” he declared.