DESPITE STRONG lobbying efforts by Caribbean tourism officials to get the United Kingdom (UK) government to review the controversial air passenger duty (APD), it appears the new rates will not be adjusted by the David Cameron administration, at least for now.
Kenneth Clarke, UK secretary of state for justice, who represented his country during celebrations to mark Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence last week, told The Gleaner he had been lobbied by Jamaican officials on the tax issue.
But Clarke indicated that it was unlikely that his colleague, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, would roll back the increase in the APD at a time when the UK government was taking steps to return to fiscal discipline.
The senior British government minister admitted that various interest groups in the UK were disappointed with the decision to increase the tax.
However, Clarke, a former finance minister, noted that he had "a clear understanding of the need for a responsible Chancellor of the Exchequer to maintain some fiscal discipline".
He said Osborne was not in a position at this time to "accede to every friendly request to ease the tax burden".
Clarke suggested that Caribbean tourism officials should renew their calls for a cutback in the APD next year, stressing that it could not be accommodated this financial year when the country was determined to return to fiscal discipline.
British lawmaker Mark Pritchard recently voiced support for the region's position over London's decision to increase the APD.
Pritchard, who was visiting Barbados to get a first-hand view of the effect of the APD on the local tourism industry, argued that there was not a level playing field in the tax increase to the Caribbean, and, as such, it should be altered.