A public release from the BVIPA said the adjustments in select fees are overdue and are necessary to efficiently and properly operate and further develop the territory’s port facilities.
An increase in BVIPA fees is of significance to regular consumers as almost all business sectors use the Port Authority to import goods into the territory. This means consumers will likely be affected once they rely on businesses such as supermarkets, automotive dealers, hardware stores, clothing stores, etcetera, for goods and services.
The business operators who contacted our news centre say with the hike in cargo-related fees, they will have no choice but to pass on some of these costs to consumers who are already struggling with day-to-day living expenses because of COVID-19.
The new fees are posted on the BVIPA’s website but our news centre could not do a comparison because the old fees have not yet been located.
However, some operators allege that some fees have increased by 100 percent and others by more.
“I understand that the fees haven’t been raised in a long time but you don’t go and do all your raises in one hit. You can’t do 25 years of patching up overnight. It’s not the people’s fault. The people are the ones who are going to be penalised,” said one business owner who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“I’ve been running some figures and whereas before a 40-foot container would cost $400 to import, it will now cost you over $800 to import and that doesn’t include wharfage. It’s like double-decking because you’ve got carrier charges (ships) which are being increased and when the consignee (business owners) pay for the cargo, there are significant increases,” the entrepreneur said.
Our news centre was also told that storage costs for containers have increased dramatically.
Yesterday, former Managing Director of the BVIPA, Claude Skelton Cline bemoaned the increases on his Honestly Speaking radio programme. Skelton Cline said he understands that the government needs revenue, but said now may not be the best time to increase these fees that will no doubt be passed on to the consumers.
The BVIPA said the amended fees were made effective on December 18, 2020.
However, Acting Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard said: “The BVI Ports Authority is applying a grace period for full implementation until 1st March, 2021 to ensure the public has the opportunity to become familiar with the new fees.”
After this date, all payments must reflect the new fees established by the amendment.