Halkitis: Most fee increases in budget impacting non-Bahamians

While the government has not imposed any new taxes in its 2023/2024 budget, there are fee increases for certain government services, some of which have not increased in 50 years, Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis said Friday during the Office of the Prime Minister’s weekly press briefing.

Halkitis explained that most of the fee increases are associated with transactions done by non-Bahamians. The fee increases include some immigration fees and 

departure tax.

He said the prices for some of those services have been the same for years, and now cost the government more to render the service than what is being charged for it.

“So for example, you go and make an application to have some service at the government, and it costs you $10. But, in order to provide that service… it might cost the government $30,” said Halkitis.

“And so in those cases, there’s an attempt to just cover the costs of providing services. But… definitely no broad-based increase in things like customs duties, and VAT [value-added tax].”

He added: “What we’re proposing is an increase in the cruise departure tax. I think 99.99 percent of cruise passengers leaving the country are likely non-Bahamian.

“And so if you raise the departure tax on cruise ships, I don’t think you will get an argument from anybody, because if you survey 100 Bahamians, 99 percent will tell you we don’t get enough from them [cruise companies] anyhow.

“They’re polluting our waters, making a lot of money and we don’t get anything. So I don’t think you’d get an argument.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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