Grantley Adams International Airport refuses to account for public funds. No transparency. No accountability.

Freundel Stuart Barbados Tourism

Freedom of Information stillborn in Barbados

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

In the editorial column of another publication recently, the writer seized on what I thought was a very pertinent question. ‘How much of the enormous government taxes tacked onto flight tickets actually go toward the maintenance of our airports?’.

In the case of our own airport, Grantley Adams International (GAIA), the taxpayer may never know the answer, because even though the facility is wholly owned by Government, it feels no obligation to publish its annual audited accounts for public scrutiny.

“A polite request made a few days ago for the airport’s latest fiscal statements, met with a deafening NO!”

While its difficult to draw any direct similarity, I wonder if ‘we’ the taxpayers had been able to view the accounts of another Government entity, the ill-fated Hotels and Resorts Ltd (GEMS) in a timely manner, perhaps then more pressure could have been brought to bear, to prevent the hemorrhage of hundreds of millions of dollars. So to try and calculate any comparison between the amount of taxes paid by departing passengers and what proportion GAIA Inc., retains towards operational and capital costs is almost impossible.

I also posed two other questions to the airport public relations department., and asked if direct air to cruise ship and in-transit passengers paid the same amount of ticket taxes as other travellers, but sadly did not receive a response.

This lack of accountability and transparency does nothing to enhance the wider understanding of the industry and the various contributions made by the many component players.

I will however compliment GAIA Inc., on the statistics section of the their website. At a glance you can compare, on a monthly basis the numbers of embarked and disembarked passengers, those in-transit and transfers, together with cargo, number of aircraft movements etc. Especially interesting is comparing the airport disembarked figures with long stay visitor arrivals figures on the CTO website.

Preliminary stay over arrivals for July were 51,253, down 12 per cent for the same month in 2011,  while  the airport disembarked number was 84,734, a variance of 33,481 or over 65 per cent.

August long stay visitors numbered 43,191 which represented a decline of 13.6 per cent over 2011, but with 77,601 disembarked passengers, a differential of 34,410 or around 79 per cent more.

As transit and transfer movements are shown separately, I think the discrepancy in these figures have to be explained. Are they residents returning home, people flying in for visas for the day and not occupying accommodation or who? Clearly, it could make a massive difference with the sustainability of airlift.

The gaps get even bigger in the winter months. As an example in January, 101,738 disembarked passengers yet only 52,619 long stay visitors. In fact, if you average the first eight months of 2012, the number of disembarked passengers is nearly double that of long stay visitors. What also appears inequitable, is that the same rationale for recovery of costs that is applied to the airport, does not seem to apply to the seaport.

We are told the stated justification of massive hike in departure or services fees, is to cover the true costs of GAIA Inc. But if the BOLT financed Sugar Point Cruise Terminal becomes a reality, will the repayments be totally funded by port fees and other charges directly related to servicing the cruise ships?

So many questions, so few answers!

8 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

8 responses to “Grantley Adams International Airport refuses to account for public funds. No transparency. No accountability.

  1. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926-2012 AND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS

    VOTE them all OUT and we have FOI in the first week
    2nd week the jails will be full of BLP and DLP
    AUDIT , AUDIT AUDIT , REPORT READ IN FULL ON CBC

  2. LOOK

    Barbados is rather embarrassing and still THIRD WORLD. The Myrie rape case embarrasses Barbados. The Violet Beckles case embarrases Barbados, Arch Cot, Britton Hill deaths embarrasses Barbados, CLICO, VECO and Al Barrack embarrasses Barbados, the Police Commissioner, Darwin Dottin embarrasses Barbados, now this unaccountable public funds – Grantley Adams Airport.

    Auditing should be on-going, at these institutions especially, Barbados Water Authority and the Grantley Adams International Airport; too much crawling out of the woodwork.

  3. LOOK

    Barbados relies on too few things to survive, mainly tourism. Should consider another cash crop, cotton, makes more sense than Owen Arthur’s idea of Nigerian Water heaters and 2.4 million dollars lost and or unaccounted for. Should also consider prime minister term limit. Owen Arthur served (4) consecutive terms totaling (14) years. His fourteen years of government yielded lots of embarrassements – more negative than positive. He is racing for prime minister title, AGAIN. He will just produce more embarrassments, more negative than positive.

    Bajans could do better than Stuart but without Arthur. Let that dog lie dead, Owen Arthur.

  4. 19

    Adrian, your articles beggars my incredulity….how in the world can Government officials continue stealing from ALL Government corporations with that inherent opportunity if they have to provide transparent accounting? Did you just arrive or what?

  5. 253

    All revenues Generated by the airport fund the airport operation, also the airport receives no funding from central government. The financial statements should be laid in parliament for all to see.

    The idea behind the corporatist ion of the airport was that it would generate its own funding and relieve central government of the burden.

  6. Adrian Loveridge

    Anonymous, Why isn’t the same criteria applied to the Bridgetown Port?
    An example, VAT at 17.5 per cent is levied on air travel originating in Barbados but NO VAT on cruises where passengers join in Barbados.
    Does the VAT charged on air travel go to fund the airport operations?

  7. Just stating the obvious....

    I think if the cruise ticket is bought here VAT taxes apply.

    Nope VAT is straight to the Government. But prior to VAT there was a separate tax on plane tickets which became obsolete when VAT was enacted. I do believe that the plan was for the port to keep it’s Port Charge revenues. I’m not sure if that actually happened.

  8. Well Well

    Don’t think we have enough years left in our lives to see transparency practiced in Bim, but one can still hope