News
June 25, 2010
Eustace wants PM to scrap tug boat legislation

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace wants Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves to repeal the legislation that has introduced a tug and towage service on grounds that “consumers will simply be overwhelmed by additional costs they should not have to pay.”{{more}}

Eustace refuted claims that he was against private sector development saying that he did not have an issue with the decision to go to a private company to provide the service.

At a media briefing on Wednesday, June 23, Eustace, however, maintained that he was not satisfied that the tendering process was transparent.

In a letter dated June 9, addressed to the Prime Minister, Eustace indicated that a search revealed that a Tug company was incorporated a mere six days before the SRO was enacted into law on May 18, 2010.

Edwin Snagg, Chairman of the Port Authority, had indicated that a tender process was done in 2008. However, Eustace said that this raised even more questions, as Snagg indicated that the contract was awarded to WJ Abbott.

“Today I am being told that it is the St Vincent Tug Company newly incorporated in May 2010 that has the contract. Is this the company chosen to provide the service?” he asked.

On the issue of cost, Eustace pointed out that the prices being charged by the tug were exorbitant when compared with the rest of the region that utilized such a service.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the price fell between US$400 and $750; Jamaica, US$433 plus the charge of fuel of $105 to $211 based on the Gross Registered Tonnage, and in St Lucia, US$400.

The rates here were expected to range between US$1100 to $6500.

The Leader of the Opposition said that Snagg addressed this concern saying that all the costs would be incorporated into the ships’ charges and that the charge would not be passed on to the consumer.

The statement was made in reference to car boats, but Eustace contended that in fact, it would be particularly for boats bringing in all other consumer goods.

Eustace also produced correspondence from the Caribbean Ship Owners Association, based in Florida, which stated that a further US$200 will be added to freight charges and the listed bill of lading.

“This means that the charge will be subject to additional duty, customs service and VAT,” the Opposition Leader contended.