New transport minister targets boating revenue


Tribune Business Reporter

The newly-appointed transport minister yesterday said he will look to introduce Family Island mooring fees, while suggesting that the 4 per cent foreign-flagged yacht charter fee is "too low".

Renward Wells, the former minister of agriculture and marine resources, who has been reassigned as minister of transport and local government, said he already has some ideas on what he would like to see happen in the Ministry.

"I have been wrapping my mind around transport and local government," he added. "I do have some ideas that I would like to see take place within that ministry. Obviously I'm going to sit down with the former minister and speak to him as to the things that he would have wanted to get done in the ministry, and I will seek to build on what he has done.

"There is something that has been near and dear to me, and it is a way to generate revenue for the country. In Australia and other countries that have vast oceans, so to speak, they have mooring systems where every boat ties up to a mooring and people pay to do that. We have not done that in the Bahamas. It is a source of great revenue for the country, and I'm going to look at how we can get a mooring authority and set up moorings in the Family Islands."

According to Mr Wells, the fees derived from such an initiative can be used to assist with funding local government. "We have a lot of boat traffic that goes through the country. We are a maritime nation," he said. "When you drop an anchor on the coral reef and pull it up, you destroy the coral.

"What countries have done is establish moorings, and every boat has to be tied up to a mooring and you charge the requisite fees. Those fees then go to the consolidated fund or whatever the government of the Bahamas so deems. I think it is something we ought to be looking into. I will be seeking to move that forward. That is one just one of many things I think we need to."

Mr Wells said the government could further increase revenue yields from boaters. "The four per cent cruising fee boats pay, we need to ensure we receive that; I think that is quite low," he said.

The four per cent that Mr Wells mentioned likely refers to the foreign-flagged yacht charter fee. The outgoing Port Controller, Captain Cyril Roker, in a previous interview with Tribune Business said it was seeking to outsource foreign yacht fee collections, while suggesting that just 15-20 per cent of due revenue is currently being obtained.

Mr Wells also called for tightening cruising permit regulation. "Once they would have come through they have 90 days to come back into the country without paying it. I think every time you come into the Bahamas and exit the Bahamas you should pay it. That's just my belief," he said.

Currently, boats up to 35 feet in length entering the Bahamas are required to pay an entry fee of $150, while for boats over 35 feet the fee is $300. The fees cover a cruising permit, a fishing permit and departure tax for up to three persons. The fee is good for a second re-entry into the country within a 90-day period.


DDK says...

"Those fees then go to the consolidated fund or whatever the government of the Bahamas so deems."
Is it not time to get rid of the CONSOLIDATED FUND or would that make tracking "the money" a bit too transparent?

Posted 4 July 2018, 2:37 p.m. Suggest removal

TheMadHatter says...

This would be a BIG MISTAKE. These are the big people with big money that come here and provide the grease for this country to work.

Don't mess with them. Not a good idea at all.

These little piddly taxes are nothing compared to their inputs. Your net result will be VERY negative.

Posted 4 July 2018, 3:50 p.m. Suggest removal

The_Oracle says...

Mr Wells, please educate yourself before making statements that illustrate your lack of understanding:
The Bahamas National Trust does indeed charge for moorings that they have placed throughout the Exumas Land and sea park, and has for years.
Placing and Maintaining mooring balls is costly. Ya'll cant maintain Nav lights and channel markers, nor light houses for that matter.
Why is it a day within being posted to a new ministry they have to put their foot in their mouths and screw with things they know nothing about?
Let me remind you of the recent obvious to everyone else scenario, The Bone headed Bone fishing regulations!
Killed that one well didn't we?
Your gonna drive the cruising/boating visitors away also?
Already boating forums based in the U.S. indicate the VAT increase has caused a significant % to cancel their plans to cross the stream this year.

Posted 4 July 2018, 4:03 p.m. Suggest removal

Porcupine says...

Mr. Wells,

With all due respect, you will not be in this ministry long enough for you to learn about it and to make any real sensible changes. Why do you feel you need to go out of your obvious knowledge limits, and speak about it?
Honestly, what do you know about boats, boaters, or foreign tourists?
For your long tenure at Marine Resources, your had already showed that you were out of your league.
Please do the Bahamian public a favor. Put your efforts into helping run your government in a cost efficient, honest manner with the revenues you already have. That would be a huge step in the right direction.
Has your government not inflicted enough pain on the citizens?
Do you honestly believe that even if you never showed up for work again in The Bahamas, things would change for the worse, one little bit?

Posted 4 July 2018, 4:18 p.m. Suggest removal

John says...

Hope the newly appointed minister looks into all that Sea food that be leaving the country every weekend. In the form of tuna and groupers and mackerel and lobster and stone crab. They spend thousands to charter a boat to come here to fish and don’t wanna pay a $100 for a cruising permit. And I is a Bahamian and my light and Cable off and VAT gone up to 12%. The devil is a liar!

Posted 4 July 2018, 4:23 p.m. Suggest removal

OMG says...

Exuma hosts 4 - 500 bats over the wihter period. These boaters come diwn laden with beer and food items. In the daytime they get in their Zodiacs and fish the area cleanmiles in either direction. They put their garbage free of charge on the dock and get free water, so why shouldn't they pay a small daily hook tax. Hypothetically $2.00 X 400= $800 X 30 days = $24000.00. Thats less than one beer a day.

Posted 4 July 2018, 5:01 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

Mooring rates should be $5-10 daily with a reduced rate per week for each yacht ......... and fine them for dropping their own anchors while in prescribed harbours ......... and if they fool enough to anchor in isolated "no anchor" areas, that should also be a fine ......... and I agree with you about them fishing indiscriminately ......... But we are in a Catch22, with them.

Posted 4 July 2018, 5:14 p.m. Suggest removal

Caybound says...

And if they go elsewhere or stay in Florida, that’s $75,000.00 The Bahamas will have lost. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. The Bahamas is going to tax themselves right out of the market. Just like with the taxes on small planes - they just don’t come anymore. I’ve lived here for 20 years and the greed and corruption just keeps getting worse. Soon be like Haiti.

Posted 4 July 2018, 5:37 p.m. Suggest removal

Dawes says...

They can go somewhere else if they want to save the $2 a day proposed, however it will cost them a lot more time and money to do that. They can stay in Florida if they want but i am sure it will cost them more to dock their. The fact is it can't be free for them to dock as this needs to be paid. Also we, like every other country, have laws about how much fish are allowed to be taken by this boaters. They must abide by them, i pray for the day the Goverement grows some and enforces the law by taking one of those mega yachts after they have over fished an area (just check the Facebook photos from the people on the boat, they are all breaking the law by catching too much).

Posted 5 July 2018, 10:05 a.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

One major issue that Renward Wells needs to get sorted out is amending the Local Government Act to allow townships and District Committees to retain at least 25% of Government revenue for capital works in these islands ........ that should be his LEGACY.

Posted 4 July 2018, 5:17 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

This cruising permit fee should be a minimum of $500.00 ........... and if they have fishing gear, that should be doubled ........... and there should be a shorter time period set on their exit/reentry of 30 days .......... We are giving away our waters and airspace for free and these boaters RAPE our marine resources ......... How many yachts are even checked for contraband or excess fish products????? .......... We give them a free ride and they abuse our gracious spirit.

Posted 4 July 2018, 5:22 p.m. Suggest removal

WTFBahamas says...

This kind of hike will surely kill Bimini, possibly even affect Abaco. Reasonable cruising fee based on time in country, sure but just increasing the cost for a permit to $150 per visit, forget it. How many people who regularly come from Miami in 25ft or so boats for a weekend on a regular basis are willing to double their entry fee?

Raping of marine resources in Exuma is a much different issue. If there was anyone paying attention and enforcing the already existing laws an end could be had to those abusing those resources.

Posted 4 July 2018, 6:21 p.m. Suggest removal

Dawes says...

Not just Exuma, they been doing that in Abaco for years too.

Posted 5 July 2018, 10:08 a.m. Suggest removal

John says...

> This cruising permit fee should be a
> minimum of $500.00.

$100 permits are fine for now. But enforce them and implement high penalties for those found fishing without permits or taking more catch than is permitted. Just as they do in Florida.

Posted 4 July 2018, 7:12 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

What is Bermuda's cruising permit fee???? or Cayman???? or the Florida Keys????? or TCI?????? or Chesapeake Bay?????? or Martha's Vineyard???????

Posted 4 July 2018, 9:30 p.m. Suggest removal

bw17 says...

Florida Keys do not have a cruising permit fee. I’m there now with my boat. I was in Bimini and Chub the second week of June, and spent $8000 on fuel lodging, food and fuel

You’re free to do as you please with your taxes and cruising permit fees, and I am free to keep my U.S. dollars in the U.S. instead of spending them in the Bahamas.

But before making a decision, consider what percentage of your economy is tourism?

Posted 7 July 2018, 11:44 p.m. Suggest removal

crawfish says...

Is the good Minister aware that for every PRIVATE mooring set in Bahamian waters, the Government of The Bahamas collects and Annual Fee? This is clear profit for the Treasury. Also, does the Minister know what is costs to build, set and maintain a mooring in a safe condition? Does he expect the Government, which cannot patch a pot hole of which there are thousands throughout this Country, to be able to maintain thousands of moorings? AND, who in the Name of God is going to visit each and every mooring each and every day to collect the Fees? And, more importantly, how much of the funds collected will make it into the consolidated fund?
The Minister, with all due respect, is obviously unfit to consider this prospect which is likely to cost the Government more than it is now collecting.
Where do these pretenders come from?

Posted 4 July 2018, 10:14 p.m. Suggest removal

Porcupine says...

Where do these pretenders come from?
Spend a day in Nassau.

Posted 5 July 2018, 7:14 a.m. Suggest removal

Dawes says...

I think you mean every Private Mooring the Government SHOULD collect an annual fee. At a start they should do just that.

Posted 5 July 2018, 10:11 a.m. Suggest removal

proudloudandfnm says...

You need to dredge harbor chanels too. Exuma needs to be deepened. Freeport's entrance to Port Lucaya needs to be deepened. The Berries need dredging. I think Eleuthera needs some dredging too but I could be wrong.

Suoer yachts are sick of the southern caribbean and want to sail our waters but our chanels are too shallow for many of them.

Just an FYI.

Posted 5 July 2018, 10:32 a.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

Very true ........ Clarence Town Harbour is beautiful, nice marina, good anchorage ........... but narrow mouth needs dredging

Posted 5 July 2018, 11:52 a.m. Suggest removal

Alex_Charles says...

I was onboard until I saw consolidated fund.
What part of the constitution or law do we have to amend for new taxes to NOT go into the bottomless pit of shit?

Put the proceeds in a consolidated local government fund for Each Island. With the financial resources, local government there can then actually do something instead of waiting for the Donkeys of Nassau to do something for places like Ragged Island. Stop this consolidated shit.

Posted 5 July 2018, 1:45 p.m. Suggest removal

sheeprunner12 says...

Very true ........ The LG Councils do a better job than the Central Govt right now.......... So I agree, give them some of the island taxes money to do some essential capital works in their Districts ............. and stop making these projects so politically dependent and Nassau handouts.

Posted 5 July 2018, 2:21 p.m. Suggest removal

Porcupine says...

Having cruised many of the out islands, when I used a mooring I paid the guy whose name was on the buoy.
I went ashore and gave them their money. Like in Farmers Cay, or Spanish Wells.
But, for god's sake keep government out of it.
Let a few enterprising locals provide this service.
Set standards, maybe even rent a hydraulic drill like we used when we put in the moorings around Key West's offshore reefs.
But, did I mention not to get government involved.

Posted 10 July 2018, 8:26 p.m. Suggest removal

FlyingFin says...

Does a mega-yacht who fuels in Lauderdale and fills their freezers so they buy nothing in Bahamas contribute to local economy? Should they be charged more than me when I run my center console over from Florida for a week in Abaco, spending money every day at local marinas, hotels, grocery stores??
Perhaps LG Councils should be allowed to follow the New England model of Harbor Masters, who collect mooring fees and provide secure moorings, navigation aids, solid waste collection, potable water. A portion of the local fee could then be shared with national revenue. Each LG can then determine their level of participation and fee structure.

Posted 30 July 2018, 9:40 a.m. Suggest removal

seahawk says...

We have cruised the Bahama for the past 9 years, spending about 5-7 months/year in your lovely country. We, like most of our cruising friends, are in boats 29-49 feet. We love anchoring and the majority are very vigilant in where we anchor avoiding coral and seagrass where ever possible.
When we see proposals for Govt mooring fields we get concerned. Mooring fields are expensive to install, and also require annual expense for Maintenance and salary for those collecting funds. This is not easy, and the govt installed mooring field in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthra demonstrates this as it was condemned two years ago.
Where moorings are viable, I think private operators have already established them. Examples include Hopetown, ManAWar, Spanish Wells. As well, the Land and Sea Park has established viable mooring fields under the umbrella of BNT. Perhaps they can provide data on the amount of work and funds needed to run a mooring field to Govt planners.
A large number of small boat cruisers flock to the Bahamas every winter (paying $300 annually) and love your country, both the scenery and the people. While most are not rich, they do bring in dollars into many of the smaller settlements. It would be a shame if the revenue to these small settlements gets sent away from an effort to extract more money from the cruising community for Nassau's coffers.
Most of us cruisers are not so bold as to tell the Bahamian Government what to do. All we hope for is they canvas all sides that this ruling could impact so that they proceed from a knowlegable position.

Posted 1 August 2018, 3:36 p.m. Suggest removal

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