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Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022

What Is The Environmental Levi Used For?

What Is The Environmental Levi Used For?

There continue to be questions 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 to discuss the 2022 budgetary allocations for ministries and departments.

While discussing the maintenance of beaches in the Territory, Minister for Natural Resources Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley questioned whether the levy could be used to defray the cost of maintenance for the beaches.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Joseph Abbott Smith stated that the short answer to the question is yes. He stated that the Levy is intended to assist in the maintenance of tourism sites and overall environmental issues. However, the Ministry does not have access to the Levy nor the other entities that would reasonably have the ability to access it.

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 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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