Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Clear the air on CAL
Finance Minister Larry Howai needs to offer clarification and amplification on the Government’s intention to remove the fuel subsidy from Caribbean Airlines Ltd. The minister gave only the barest of information in his statement on Monday in presenting the 2014 budget in the Parliament. The large and perennial cost to the national exchequer of the national airline has long been a vexing question, so that in theory at any rate, the removal of the subsidy should be welcome news to taxpayers.
In addition, over the last few months, Caricom leaders, headed by the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, have claimed that the fuel subsidy traditionally given to CAL is against elements of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which set out guidelines for fair trading practices. The Vincentian leader has gone as far as threatening to take the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice for arbitration.
It should be noted that the contention by the shareholder governments in the inter-regional airline LIAT is to the effect that the subsidy gives CAL an unfair advantage over the airline that daily takes passengers up and down the Caribbean island chain. The commitment given by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar to remove the fuel subsidy should satisfy and silence the concerns of the regional governments and help to restore blue skies to aviation over the Caribbean Sea.
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