Government proposes hiking departure tax

The government has submitted a bill to increase departure tax and generate revenue for improvements to border control and aviation safety.

Mahmoud Razee, minister of civil aviation and communication, said the departure tax would be increased from US$14 to US$18.50.

The government has also submitted a civil aviation authority bill to parliament which will allow the establishment of a body to oversee aviation-related activities such as safety.

Razee said the establishment of an independent institution had been recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The ICAO is a UN agency that regulates international air navigation to ensure safe growth of the industry. The council recommends practices concerning air navigation, infrastructure, flight inspection and facilitation of border-crossing procedures.

Razee said he did not think the increase would deter holidaymakers as the tax was still low compared to other countries in South Asia which charged tourists an average of US$20.

Speaking to an international group of journalists last month, President Mohamed Nasheed announced the government’s decision to introduce a US$3 a day green tax on all tourists.

He said the revenue generated would go towards making the Maldives carbon neutral within a decade and a sovereign fund to relocate the population if rising sea levels swamp the island nation.

But, Tourism Minister Dr Ahmed Sawad said it was more likely the government would take a percentage from other taxes such as the departure tax for deposit in a green fund.

“We have been talking about a lot of taxes and have created debate in the public domain,” said Sawad. “What I believe is going to happen in the near future is we will streamline all of these ideas into a single tax.”


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Maryam Omidi

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