January 29, 2010
Grenadines $1 Port user fee discontinued

With immediate effect, persons travelling to the Grenadines will no longer have to pay the $1 user fee introduced two and a half years ago.{{more}}

Last Monday evening, as Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves concluded his 2010 Budget presentation, he told the nation that his administration had taken the decision to abolish the fee.

The fee system to the Grenadines was introduced in April 2007 to facilitate use of the new passenger terminal at the Cruise Ship and Ferry Berth. School children in uniform and senior citizens were exempt from paying the fees.

Gonsalves said he made the decision after he was encouraged to do so by an old lady from Bequia who visited him over the Christmas season.

“She persuaded me to cause the removal of this one dollar user fee even while she acknowledged its functional utility,” said Gonsalves, adding, “Her considerations related to the easing of anxieties of certain people.

“I accept her caring suasion. Accordingly, with immediate effect, the user fee will be no more,” said the prime minister.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has described this woman as “fictitious”. He said the Government had no choice but bow to the Opposition’s pressure on the issue.

The user fee to the Grenadines has been a bone of contention between residents of the Grenadines and the Government since it was introduced.

Responding to a question from Dr. Godwin Friday, Area Representative for the Northern Grenadines, in March 2007, Gonsalves said Government had forked out EC$100,000 to construct the facility. He said he wanted to make it clear the terminal was constructed to eliminate the problem of people being exposed to the elements while awaiting ferries from the Grenadines.

The terminal has a seating capacity of 50 and is equipped with wireless Internet, lockers for temporary storage of luggage, toilets with access for the physically challenged, and cable television.

Residents of the Grenadines challenged the Government’s policy as early as one week after it was implemented with a protest led by the Opposition New Democratic Party.

At the time Friday called it an unnecessary burden on the people of the Grenadines.