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British PM phones Kamla on air passenger duty

By WALTER ALIBEY Wednesday, December 1 2010

click on pic to zoom in
At Downing Street: British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar at 10 Downing Street, London on October 15, this ye...
At Downing Street: British Prime Minister David Cameron and Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar at 10 Downing Street, London on October 15, this ye...

PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday continued talks with her British counterpart David Cameron concerning lowering the Air Passenger Duty (APD) taxes for passengers travelling to Trinidad and Tobago or any Caribbean destination.

The discussion took place via a telephone call which Cameron made to Persad-Bissessar, from Zurich, Switzerland, on the advice of Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner.

Cameron met with Warner, a FIFA vice president, to convince him to grant England the CONCACAF vote for the 2018 World Cup. During their talks Warner encouraged Cameron to phone Persad-Bissessar in Trinidad.

Warner, in a release issued from Zurich, said he could not allow the opportunity to pass by and not highlight what he saw as “the great injustice” being inflicted upon Caribbean people through the tax.Only last month, Persad-Bissessar, in a meeting of the Commonwealth in London, raised the issue of the APD tax with Cameron which she said has been a problem for Caricom countries.

Each economy class traveller to the Caribbean was required to pay a fee of ?50 (US$77) in APD which was expected to be increased by November 1. With the increase, travellers to regional countries now have to pay ?75 (US$115) while the taxes for premium economy, business and first class were expected to rise from ?100 (US$154) to ?150 (US$291).

Persad-Bissessar described the fees as detrimental to Caribbean economies and sources said if discussions with Cameron were fruitful yesterday then Trinidad and Tobago and regional economies may receive welcome relief soon.

Persad-Bissessar’s call for a review of the APD last month was noted by Cameron and his Foreign Minister Haque, after which she was given a commitment that the levels of the duties would be revisited.

Sources said Persad-Bissessar was even more optimistic the British government would reconsider the duty after Cameron’s discussions with Warner who raised the issue.

In his statement, Warner said he informed Cameron that the Caribbean was feeling the pinch of the APD and recommended the British government should revisit the tax.

“Many of us depend on tourism and the effect of this tax is grave,” Warner said yesterday.
England is competing for the right to host the 2018 World Cup along with Spain, Belgium- Netherlands, Portugal and Russia while the United States is bidding to host the 2022 World Cup. The US is competing with Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea.

The voting process will take place tomorrow at the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

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