Business Group Says Request For Meeting With Ports Ignored, Urged Deferment Of New Fees
Chairperson of the BVI Chamber of Commerce and Hotel Association (BVICCHA) Shaina Smith-Archer said the increased fees for doing business at the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) should have been deferred to a time when the economy was booming again.
Smith-Archer told BVI Platinum in an interview on Tuesday, March 16, that the phased approach to the fees made little difference.
“It is still going to have the same effect of having all the fees being done at the same time,” she remarked.
She added, “A more palatable situation would have been maybe a delay of six months to give the economy time to absorb the increase in cost. Because again, the businesses are anticipating that with the opening of the seaports next month, hopefully, things would start to recover more quickly, and from there you have income coming in to deal with everything.”
Smith-Archer explained that going forward as a policy, the government needs to have a better social partnership as it relates to having consultations because their decisions are impacting us so I think it would be that we have a say in the decision-making so that things are fair on both sides.”
Smith-Archer said the Chamber was seeking an audience with the BVIPA to discuss the issue, but “we never got a response.”
It was the BVIPA that indicated that they would have delayed the implementation of the fees from March 1, 2021 to allow for consultations following public outcry.
The new fees came into effect on March 15, and these increases will affect licenses for customs brokers and agents; storage fees, wharfage, line handling, container fees and vehicles accessing port facilities fees.
Opposition Leader, Hon. Marlon Penn said the cost of doing business with the BVIPA has escalated and that the consumers are going to be the ones affected.