By anguillian February 29, 2016 10:57 Updated





One of the matters that came up for discussion during the Government’s interactive radio programme, Up Front: A Conversation with the Nation, was the increased fees and taxes to support the 2016 Budget which is still awaiting approval by the British Government.
Of particular discussion were the increased licence fees for car rentals. It was a matter raised by the host of the show, Mr. Mark Romney, with Mr. Curtis Richardson, Minister of Infrastructure and Communications. In posing his question, Mr. Romney said:

“We recently saw the amendment to the tariff for the drivers’ licencing fees for car rentals… What can you share with us in terms of the reasons driving this new initiative”?
Mr. Richardson replied as follows: “As you know, when we came on the campaign trail … our mantra on every issue was that we will fix it. I think Anguilla is still a wonderful place. I enjoy living here and I am happy for the opportunity that we have, and the mandate given to us, to fix a number of issues and problems affecting the people’s lives in Anguilla. One of those issues is that some of the increases within the Budget that we, as a Government, had to consider, were based on a number of things that we have to fix – from the banking issue down to other challenges.
“I was reprimanded by a number of car rental agencies throughout Anguilla and, given that it was a lot of them and they were making certain claims, I told them I thought it was best, as a financial matter, that I should bring the Chief Minister, who is the Minister of Finance, to a meeting with them. We had a very wonderful meeting. It was a turnout of about forty car rental owners. I didn’t realise there were so many people in the car rental business, and I was happy to see them out. They were very orderly and they raised and brought forward their points. It was very clear to us, as [members of] Government, that they were making a very salient point in that every person who has a business in Anguilla has to get a business licence from the Government; and the highest fee that most people pay is in the region of EC$8,000 for a year. Some people would pay EC$2,000 for a business licence and other persons were paying $3,000, $4,000 – different variations. But the maximum amount people were paying was around $8,000.

“When we looked at the car rentals, the framework was that for each rental, persons ended up paying $420.00… So if a guy had ten rentals, he was paying $4,200. If he had twenty, he would pay up to $8,400 – and if he had more than twenty, he was paying way over what other people were paying for a business licence. We felt that they had a genuine case. We looked at it and came to the conclusion that they and us were happy to address the car rental licencing fee and put it at EC$300 for each car rental.”

Mr. Richardson also spoke about a related matter as follows: “We also looked at the issue of when people go to rent a car for a day and the increased fees mandated that they should pay $25.00 to get a temporary driver’s licence…We felt that the $25.00 was driving up the cost to rent a car in excess of $70.00. We thought that was a little unreasonable and we addressed that. Now, if you are going to rent a car for up to 72 hours, you can pay $15.00 and thereafter pay the $25.00 increase that we have legislated.”

The conversation between Mr. Romney and Mr. Richardson ended as follows:
Mr. Romney: “So in effect, to put this in context, there are two takeaways: the Budget is not necessarily cast in stone, so to speak, in terms that there can be changes and that is what we have seen happened here. At the same time, the Government is prepared to listen.”

Minister Richardson: “I think the most compelling factor in all of this, from the time I spoke with the car rental operators outside of the meeting with the Chief Minister, was that this Government is willing to listen. We are intelligent. We are reasonable. We are rational. If we have to do something – I have always said to people on the street that as long as I am a part of the Government, if there is something that I [should] support, they [his colleagues] have to give me good reasons [to do so]. It is the same thing with Niel and Cora. We are not part of this team just because we like each other that much. We are in it because we see that each of us, in our own right, are reasonable people and we can find a middle ground on which we can work.”

Mr. Richardson added that the car rental operators were “definitely a category of people who were being impacted by the increased fees and who had good rationale and reasons for consideration.”

By anguillian February 29, 2016 10:57 Updated


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