The Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13. The captain, Francesco Schettino, veered from his approved course and smashed the ship’s hull on a reef, forcing the panicked evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew.
Since then, rescuers have found 16 bodies, with 17 people still unaccounted for.
The last time anyone was found alive was on Jan. 15, when a senior crew member was discovered less than 36 hours after the grounding.
On Wednesday 18th, the chief executive of Costa Crociere SpA, Pier Luigi Foschi, insisted that Schettino didn’t have approval to change the ship’s routing and was sailing the ship far too fast – 16 knots, so close to shore.
But he defended the practice of so-called “tourist navigation,” whereby enormous cruise ships steer close to shore to give passengers a look at the sites. He said it was part of the “cruise product” that passengers demand and that cruise lines are forced to offer to stay competitive.
This disaster highlighted the frailty of the tourism industry on which the people of St Kitts and Nevis depend so much.
The government needs to do more to wean the islands from depending so heavily on the tourism industry which is too big to fail the economy.
Building materials tax holiday
The SKN Government has announced a tax incentive programme for private home construction.
For 18 months taxes on the purchase of or imports of building materials for home construction projects have been removed.
The Government promotes home ownership and has provided affordable housing for everyone. More than 15,000 people have benefited from the Government’s National Housing Corporation’s housing scheme which has seen the construction of almost 4,000 homes by the NHC in 14 years.
The taxes exempted under the tax holiday for local home builders include all Import Duties (usually taxed at rates ranging from 5% to 25%) and Customs Service Charges (usually taxed at rates ranging from 6% to 12%).
VAT is still payable.
The exemption applies to the first EC$400,000 (US$150,000) of building materials (CIF if materials imported by self).
Procedure for citizens to utilize the BMIP
1. Obtain and complete the
“APPLICATION FOR DUTY-FREE CONCESSIONS ON BUILDING MATERIALS”.
Download application form
2. Submit the completed form to Theresa Morris at the Ministry of Finance. Items to be submitted with the application form:
a. A certified copy of the Commencement Certificate issued by the Development Control and Planning Board
b. Your “Bill of Quantities” (list of the materials required for the construction, usually provided by your contractor)
3. Your application will take three to five working days to be processed by which time you will know whether your application has been approved.
If your application is approved, you will receive a letter of approval and a copy will be sent to the Customs and Excise Department. The concession applies to building materials purchased locally or imported by successful applicants.
Successful applicants present their letter of approval to local merchants for the exemption.
For importation of building materials, citizens approved to participate in the BMIP can consult with the Customs and Excise Department at Bird Rock (467-1077/78),
for further details related to importation and how the VAT is calculated and applied.
All applications to benefit from the BMIP should be made and all purchases/imports completed by December 31, 2012.
For more information please contact
Theresa Morris at the Ministry of Finance
telephone: +1 869 467 1240