Caribbean News Round-up
APD waiver for parts of the UK
TT, Jamaica for the Caribbean Court?
Autonomous TCI to 're-engage' with Caricom
Pressure is growing on the UK government to scrap the Airport Passenger Departure (APD) after lobbying by Caribbean tourism officials, airlines which fly to the region and other business interests.
At the end of October, Scotland’s three airports called for the tax to be frozen and devolved to Scottish decision-making.
Scotland's three largest airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – commissioned a report into the financial implications and then called on Chancellor George Osborne to conduct an urgent review of APD.
The report estimates that the APD could cost these airports more than two million passengers a year by 2016.
Meanwhile, the APD on long-haul flights out of Northern Ireland was abolished in early November, although the tax remains on short-haul flights.
The duty will go back to zero for long-haul flights leaving Northern Ireland airports from January 2013.
Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister Sammy Wilson described the scrapping of the long-haul APD as a boost to the economy.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean lobby to review the APD on flights to the region is continuing.
An online summer campaign for British nationals to write to their MPs led to 200,000 taking part, as well as large airlines including BA and Virgin joining the lobby.
The new head of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, identified the APD as a main part of her focus.
CCJ at last?
The President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Dennis Byron, has been pressing home the case for Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica to join the regional final appellate court.
The two countries still retain Britain’s Privy Council as their final appeal court, despite criticism from architects of the CCJ (link) while the two countries were marking their 50th independence anniversaries in August this year.
Speaking at a meeting of Trinidad’s Union Club this week, Sir Dennis said he expected them to adopt the CCJ next year.
“It is more likely than not that during the course of next year, Jamaica and TT and the countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States will complete the process,” he said.
“That is what I am plugging for."
He pointed out the financial benefits of a final appeal court in the region, which would provide reduced costs for litigants and their lawyers, rather than remote appeals in London.
“I believe the reputation of this country to produce local minds is well renowned,” he said, “and it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the region to be deprived of the full benefit of [TT] legal scholarship, which can contribute directly to the region’s jurisprudence.”
TCI to “re-engage” with Caricom
Now that it has a newly-elected government, a restored constitution and improving relations with the UK, the Turks and Caicos Islands plans to restore its relations with the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
The TCI had had associate membership of Caricom before its national constitution was suspended and it was put under direct British rule following an investigation into high-level corruption on the islands.
Since then, tighter anti-corruption measures have come into force and autonomous rule has been restored following the elections in early November.
This week, British officials have been visiting the islands, while representatives of the new TCI government are due to travel to London.
New TCI Premier Rufus Ewing said that re-engagement with Caricom would be key to his islands’ development, particularly in terms of sharing the region’s technical expertise.