TAF levy is a blatant cash grab, says OBA
The Government’s Travel Authorisation Form has been blasted by the Opposition as hamstringing tourism while benefiting “private enterprise”.
Susan Jackson, the Shadow Minister of Transport, said the $40 levied on travellers to Bermuda had lost the island millions in taxes and visitor spending after news broke this week of five confirmed cruise ship cancellations over the protocol, said to be aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.
Ms Jackson accused government-hired IT firms of profiting from the TAF, adding: “The Opposition has been calling for the Travel Authorisation contract to be released with transparency.
“There is no reason why this information hasn’t been shared to date.”
She said the Government, with the Ministry of Transport and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, had been “blatantly ignoring their collective responsibility to the people of Bermuda by continuing to collect Travel Authorisation fees for the benefit of private enterprise while the taxpayer stands to lose millions in government tax revenue”.
The cancelled cruise visits would deprive “taxi and mini bus drivers, small businesses and every other local service” of revenue from thousands of visitors during the off season, she said.
“This irrational reasoning leaves the public wondering with greater concern who is exactly benefiting from the Travel Authorisation revenue?”
Ms Jackson maintained that the IT firm ResQwest, along with “silent partners”, stood to profit while the island lost out over the TAF, which is expected to remain in place until March of next year.
“If the country is unable to put a stop to this blatant cash grab, we can expect more to come as these private shareholders continue to gain confidence and introduce additional services in transport and other government revenue-generating services.
“We can expect public services to deteriorate, public services to be further reduced and much less money being distributed to struggling citizens while a few in Government circles make all the financial gains.”