ST JOHN’S, Antigua – When Parliament reconvenes today opposition senators will be looking closely at how government treats a piece of legislation that would lead to an increase in airport taxes, making travel to the twin island more expensive.
Senator Paul “Chet” Greene is among opposition senators convinced that Wednesday’s adjournment of the Senate sitting to today is nothing more than a political tactic, geared at withdrawing the controversial Airport Administration Charge Act.
“We suspect that it has to do with the Airport Tax which was moved down the pile on Wednesday morning. We will not be surprised if Friday morning, we have an announcement by Dr Cort that government intends to withdraw that Bill,” Greene said.
In seeking the adjournment on Wednesday, Dr Cort said it was for “administrative reasons” but Greene believes this explanation was not only broad but suspicious.”
“Not only was it (the adjournment) broad and abrupt but it was also unexpected because they had the numbers on their side,” the opposition senator said.
On Tuesday, the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association (AHTA) and the Airlines Association wrote to Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer asking him to defer the tax, which was already passed in the Lower House.
It is for this “administrative matter” that Greene and other opposition senators believe the senate sitting was postponed.
Government said the US $30 increase being considered is necessary to facilitate ongoing improvements to the airport and to sustain the facility in the long run.
The Airport Administration Charge is a consolidation of the Embarkation Tax and the Passenger Facility Charge that would be applied at a standardised rate of US $37.50 to enter and the same amount to depart the country.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)