(Photo Credit: File)
Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie found himself having to defend the absence of a study regarding plans to offer tax breaks for mega yachts in the Territory.
The Leader of the Opposition and Member for the Eighth District, Hon. Marlon Penn referred to the plan during the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) and asked if an analysis has been done to determine what kind of revenue loss would occur as a result of this tax break.
The Premier responded in the negative. He stated that it is an initiative through Government and noted that the BVI has lost its competitive edge in the marine industry.
He further stated that the marine clientele are faced with deterrents such as cumbersome paperwork and high fees. He said that at the end of the day the mega yachts are going to the neighboring St. Thomas, USVI because it is too expensive to stay in the BVI.
However, Hon. Penn enquired about how the Government knows that the fuel tax break is the right incentive to attract mega yachts back to the Territory.
The Premier stated that they looked at factors such as the cost of fuel. He said that he has spoken to some of the mega yacht owners himself and they have told him that they would not be coming back to the BVI because it is too expensive.
Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley noted that for the Christmas in July event, when St. Thomas wanted to attract the Puerto Rican vessels, they lowered the cost of fuel and offered them free ice and water.
Hon. Penn raised his concern with regards to the granting of tax breaks that are not passed on. He said that, at the end of the day, it is the Government’s decision on whether or not this tax break will be implemented.