|Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy (FP)??|
Barbados will continue to lobby against the existing APD band system.
This was stressed by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, as he addressed the launch of Tourism Week at George Washington House yesterday.
Regarding the recent announcement by the British Government that the tax was here to stay, he said: "I was encouraged, at the very least, that we would see something done about the bands. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, back in March, admitted that under the present system, the bands are inherently discriminatory, that was his declaration on the floor of the House of Commons back in March.?? And, he even cited the Caribbean to illustrate his point, referring to the fact … the APD is higher for all of the Caribbean than it is to Hawaii, which is a much longer flight…?? I would say I’m quite disappointed."
He emphasised, however, that this result simply signaled the need to regroup and continue to petition for amendments to the existing band system.
"I believe that we should continue to plug away. The lobbying effort did get through, it did reach the very highest levels of the UK government and I don’t think that we should simply accept what has been announced …I think we need to continue to lobby at every level of the UK government [and] re-energize the work that has been done by the APD committee, of which High Commissioner Tony Arthur has been very instrumental," Minister Sealy asserted.
The Tourism Minister stressed that the UK government’s admission that the system was flawed meant that the Caribbean could not accept its continued use.
"[They have] recognised that the banding system is not fair. That is what they said.?? Maintaining it means that they are accepting…an unfair system to raise revenue.?? And we cannot accept that.?? We have to continue to push to have the system altered," he declared.??
Minister Sealy explained that efforts would continue to be proactive and stated that with added support from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, the High Commissioner, and the Caribbean community in the UK, they would continue to lobby for a just system to be established.
"I plan obviously to brief as comprehensively as I can the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on this issue and we will start to look at a response to what has been announced and take it from there. We are not going to give up," he reiterated.