Seychelles' government to have further discussions on collection method for environmental levy
The payment of the levy by tourist accommodation approved by the Cabinet in its meeting on July 5 has a three-tiered approach. (Gerard Larose)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles' finance authorities will undertake further discussions with the Cabinet of Ministers on the environment levy for tourism accommodation expected to start August 1, amid concerns of tourism establishments on the proposed collection method.
Top finance officials met with representatives of tourism accommodation owners and yacht operators on Monday to discuss the imminent environment levy.
The payment of the levy approved by the Cabinet in its meeting on July 5 has a three-tiered approach. Small hotels will pay R25 ($2), medium hotels, R75 ($6) and large hotels and yachts R100 ($8).
The proposed collection method was that when an establishment makes it invoice like they collect value-added tax (VAT) currently, there will be a line on the invoice for the environment tax based on per person per night.
Revenue collected through the levy was earmarked to finance climate mitigation projects.
In the meeting on Monday at the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) conference room, representatives from the tourism industry spoke about their reservations on how the levy would be collected.
"We don't mind paying the levy as this will help our environment, but we do not want to be collecting it on behalf of the government," said Robert Payet, who owns tourism establishments on Praslin.
This is not the first time government officials meet the tourism industry representatives to discuss the subject. A first consultative meeting was held in January and tourism representatives said they sent the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA) to speak on their behalf.
Other concerns raised were the fact that the establishment owners would have to pay the additional three percent incurred from banks following credit card payments from their clients.
It was also suggested that Travizory - also known as the Seychelles Electronic Border System (SEBS) -becomes the body that collects the levy on behalf of the government, a step Payet said that the government is reluctant to take.
Every foreign traveller to Seychelles has to apply for travel authorisation online via SEBS before entering the country.
"We spoke to Travizory about the possibility of allowing visitors to pay for the levy through its website and they informed us that it would take three minutes to make the necessary changes for this to happen," said the chairperson of SHTA, Sybille Cardon.
Since the levy is yet to be published in the Official Gazette and has not been presented to the National Assembly, the secretary of state for finance, Patrick Payet, informed those present that they would hold further talks with the Cabinet of Ministers.
He also explained that by Wednesday, the representatives will be informed as to whether the authorities will continue with the formal steps of making the levy into law.