Administration looks to borrow in order to make interim payments to taxi and tour-bus operators serving seaport

The Gaston Browne Administration is hoping to avert industrial action by taxi operators at the seaport by borrowing money to settle  payments owed to them.

Tourism Minister Charles “Max” Fernandez reportedly addressed the matter in Cabinet during its sitting on Wednesday, November 24.

Fernandez explained that tour operators who have contracts  with the cruise lines usually sub-contract taxi drivers to provide transportation for disembarking passengers.

In the past, when there was a continuous flow in the tourism season from year on year, resources were available to pay the taxi operators on a 14-day cycle, Fernandez says.

However, due to the long break brought on by the pandemic and the disruption to the industry, receiving timely payments has become an issue for the taxi operators.

Fernandez says the cruise lines have always maintained a 45-day period for making payment on these contracts.  And it is this longer wait time that has caused the taxi drivers to become agitated.

The Ministry of Tourism recognizes the trouble that can be caused by any industrial action from the taxi drivers and tour bus operators at this time, when the industry is recovering, the Minister says.

Therefore, every effort is being made to borrow money, if necessary, to meet payments to those who are unable to wait until the cruise lines pay the tour operators.

Fernandez reportedly has made contact with the Florida Cruise Tourism Association, and arrangements have been made to approve the payout for a 14-day period.

Since the pandemic shut down the tourism sector, last March, industry workers, including taxi operators, have been struggling to make ends meet.  They have had challenges meeting car payments and licensing and insuring their vehicles.