Persons leaving St. Vincent and the Grenadines via any of its five airports will have to pay EC$100, double the current departure tax, as of Feb. 15, 2017, one day after Argyle International Airport opens.
Prime Minster Ralph Gonsalves announced the change in this tax in his budget address on Monday.
The operating cost of the new EC$729 million airport will be almost three times that of the E.T. Joshua Airport, the nation’s main airport.
Gonsalves said that the annual cost of operating Argyle International Airport is estimated at EC$20 million, some EC$13 million more than currently obtains at E.T. Joshua Airport.
“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 percent of the figure for the AIA,” he said.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said the Central Government is providing a subvention of EC$5 million in 2017, which will be insufficient to fund the shortfall.
“It is anticipated that as the traffic increases at the AIA, the extent of the subvention will decline or cease,” Gonsalves said and then proceeded to announce the increase in departure tax.
Gonsalves said the measure will be implemented from Feb. 15 and will yield approximately EC$5 million per annum.
He said that even at EC$100, the Airport Service Charge on departing passengers is lower than that of the overwhelming number of CARICOM member-states.
Gonsalves said EC$35.1 million of the EC$976.4 million budget is allocated to make payments related to the completion of the construction of the airport and furnishings and equipment for its operation.
The airport was constructed at a cost of EC$700 million and has left taxpayers with a debt of EC$400 million.
(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the departure tax was being increased from EC$40 to EC$100. It is being moved from EC$50 to EC$100).
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