Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has told local media that a bill detailing proposed ‘green tax’ for tourists will be sent to parliament this month.
“Levying this tax is necessary given Maldives’ fragile environment. Revenue generated from the tax will go into managing the waste from local resorts and other islands,” said Adeeb who also serves as the co- chair in the cabinet’s Economic Council.
The exact percentage to be levied will be decided after consultations with relevant stakeholders, he added.
Earlier this month, Adeeb said he would aim to resolve waste management issues within the next two years using state-owned companies, after announcing the termination of the deal with India based Tatva Global Renewable Energy.
Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad also spoke of the proposed green tax while submitting a record MVR24.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) state budget for parliamentary approval today.
Jihad noted that the tax will form part of revenue raising measures, which also include the addition of ten resorts to the current 112. The proposed changes are anticipated to raise MVR3.4 billion (US$220 million) in new revenue.
Levies on the tourism industry – which accounts indirectly for up to 90 percent of the country’s GDP – formed a major part of proposed revenue raising measures in 2014.
An IMF-recommended hike on Tourism Goods and Service Tax (T-GST) from eight to 12 percent was approved by parliament in February and came into force last Saturday (November 1), prompting concerns from industry insiders.
Speaking to Minivan News today, former Managing Director of Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) Mohamed Matheen said that the budget issues could not be resolved without addressing the structural issues within the budget.
“The budget deficit cannot be resolved regardless of how the tax regime is set without addressing issues like the high recurrent expenditures of the government, which is a lot higher than the majority of the countries,” said Matheen.
One general manager from a prominent resort told Minivan News last weekend that bookings appeared to be down for November, with both guests and operators aware of the “double tax” as the T-GST increase combines with the bed tax – a measure also continued this year as a way to boost government coffers.
“November will be tough,” he explained. “Top end resorts will really feel this. There’s no way further increases could be stood.”
He also expressed concern that the resorts were being asked to carry the fiscal burden of the government’s failure to curb expenditure.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed has also criticised the hike in the T-GST saying that it would cause immense difficulties to the general public.
“Now a [ticket] to a flight to Addu has gotten more expensive than a flight to Colombo. This is not, in any situation, how it should be priced,” Nasheed told local media.