By Neil Hartnell and Natario McKenzie
Tribune Business Staff
The Ministry of Finance’s top official yesterday said the government “feels comfortable” that the boating industry can absorb increased cruising permit rates despite marina concerns.
Marlon Johnson, the acting financial secretary, told Tribune Business that the government had conducted benchmarking studies on similar fees in rival Caribbean jurisdictions before unveiling the new structure in yesterday’s 2019-2020 budget.
“We feel comfortable the market can absorb it,” he said. “We anticipate push back from some of the players in the market, but we feel with rates elsewhere in the region the market can absorb the increase.”
KP Turnquest, deputy prime minister, yesterday revealed that “government will increase cruising permit fees from $150 on boats up to 34 feet, and $300 on boats 35 feet and over, to a set of rates based on size and length of stay ranging from $150 per three months to $4,000 per year. These rates will become effective January 1, 2020, so as to allow a transition period for the boating industry”.
THE Association of Bahamas Marinas (ABM) said yesterday that while it supports the government’s need to increase revenue, it remains “deeply concerned” that proposed fee increases on the boating sector are being announced in an environment where there has been no improvement in important aspects of the industry’s infrastructure.
Peter Maury, the association’s president, in a statement said: “The Association of Bahamas Marinas is supportive of the government’s need to increase revenue, and are happy to see the maritime sector play its part.
“The increases presented by the deputy prime minister and minister of finance in today’s budget communication will contribute to this. The proposed increases have yet to be debated. After that takes place, we will immediately inform the industry.”
Mr Maury added: “We warmly welcome the imminent introduction of the ‘single window’ online collection portal for processing marine traffic, but remain deeply concerned that these fees are being announced in an environment in which there has been no improvement in important aspects of the industry’s infrastructure, with aids to navigation being of particular concern. For example, the NW channel light, a light of significant importance, remains non-functional after 28 years.”