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Cabinet has approved the implementation of a prescribed annual fee to replace the existing customs duty, customs user fee, environment levy, and General Consumption Tax (GCT) charges on Jamaican registered yachts.

Speaking at Wednesday’s (December 19) Jamaica House Media Briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, said the decision to institute an annual fee is aimed at “stimulating nautical tourism and yacht registration in Jamaica."

“It will also enhance the competitiveness of the Jamaican Shipping Registry by encouraging the registration of pleasure crafts and facilitating home porting in Jamaica,” the Minister argued, while pointing out that only about eight per cent of the 100 yachts berthed in Jamaica are locally registered.

She also advised that yachts below 25 feet in length will not be required to pay registration or safety inspection fees, for the first two years, after being landed.

Senator Falconer said Cabinet approved the introduction of a cruising permit fee, under the Shipping Act, to be paid by visiting foreign registered yachts. Drafting instructions, she said, are to be given to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel to amend the relevant legislation to effect the recommendations.

On another matter, the Minister said Cabinet has approved a contract, valued at $154 million, to Chung’s Catering Services Limited for the provision of lunch to the staff of the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ).

The contract, she informed, will run for three years, from December 2012 to November 2015 and forms part of a “longstanding contract obligation” between the bank and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), which represents employees at the institution, to provide members of staff with daily subsidized meals.