Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

Environment Levy Not Being Misused – Premier

Environment Levy Not Being Misused – Premier

Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie has assured that revenues earned from the environmental levy is being used for its intended purpose under the legislation.
At a press conference on Friday, January 28, the Premier was questioned by the media about the revenues collected through the levy.

While the Premier did not provide specifics, he sought to explain that the monies are being used for their intended purposes. Some of the monies are specifically earmarked for the Climate Fund Trust Board which has been disbanded.

“Those monies are still there in the fund so to speak for when the climate change board comes into force, which is going to be very soon, and when that comes into force they will use it accordingly as how the law dictates that it is used. It has not been misused or used at all other than what it was legislated to do,” Premier Fahie stated.

Questions have been raised about the use of revenue collected at ports of entry under the environmental tax levy.

The matter arose again during the House of Assembly’s Standing Finance Committee (SFC) meetings held between November/December to discuss the 2022 budgetary allocations for ministries and departments.

The Junior Minister for Trade and Economic Development, Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles stated that the levy is a thorn in everyone’s sides who is supposed to be benefitting from those funds.

She further stated that 60% to 70% of repeat visitors that pay are also asking what is the payment of the environmental levy tax used for.

According to Hon. Flax-Charles, these tourists come three or four times a year and they are not seeing where their monies are utilised and persons who come regularly will notice a change.

She remembered when the fund was created and asked why is it difficult for the Ministries and departments to have access to the funds.

When the levy came into force the monies collected was intended to be applied towards activities related to environmental protection and improvement, climate change and the maintenance and development of tourist sites and other tourism-related activities.

In 2019, it was revealed by the Finance Ministry that 40% of funds collected will go towards the BVI Tourist Board for marketing purposes, 40% towards the Climate Change Trust Fund and 20% towards the National Parks Trust.

At the time, the fund had grown to well over $1M. The levy is collected under the Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act 2017.
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