Little Compass Rose Caribbean Compass September 1998

THE TAX FACTS

by Glyn Frost

Venezuelan boatyards will now be able to compete for foreign yachts' business without having to pass along a 16.5 percent tax which the government has previously levied. The concession applies to work done on all foreign-flagged vessels whose owners are not resident in Venezuela. It does not cover those services which, by their nature, are consumed in the country, such as dockage and electricity, but all work done on foreign boats, including materials, is now deemed to be exported. So far there is no provision for duty-free supply of consumer goods to foreign boatowners, but this situation is under review.

The change in taxation, effective immediately, was announced by Jimmy Capriles, president of the local marine-trades group Asonautica, at a meeting called to discuss the National Parks levy which also recently came into effect. Although the legislation has been in place for some time for the Venezuelan National Parks to become self-financing, the mechanism for collection of charges has only just been organised.

From now on all vessels - national or foreign - in designated areas will be required to pay a US$20-per-6-months license fee towards the upkeep of Mochima National Park. This is planned to be extended in the future to cover all such park areas, which cover large tracts of Venezuela. Every boat will be issued with stickers both for the boat and for the cruising permit, and adherence to these regulations will be strictly enforced.

Although this money was earmarked to contribute to the many expenses in maintaining the whole of this huge and treasured natural resource, Asonautica has persuaded Inparques, the responsible body, to allot 20 percent of these funds to the particular needs of the yachting community. The money will be administered by Asonautica, a non-profitmaking organisation, for the benefit of all who cruise this coast. Since the primary concern at the moment seems to be security, this was the first issue to be addressed.

At the meeting it was announced that two new Coast Ranger stations had already been set up in the Mochima area - one at Bahia Menares, the site of last February's shooting incident. It was also partly due to this unfortunate incident, in which yachtsman Peter Mais was wounded, that the suggestion was taken up to provide a VHF relay antenna in the park. At the time of the incident radio communication was hampered in part by distance and the terrain around the bay. Now that funds are becoming available, this antenna should be in place early next year, giving greatly improved radio coverage which many believe is the key to increased security. There will also be extra patrol boats in the area.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the yachting community as well as the owners of marinas and ancillary businesses who will be involved in the issuing of licenses. Questions were asked about the continuity of the project in the face of possible political changes in this election year; Inparques officials gave complete assurances that the funding is already available and allocated.

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