Importing plants to cost more

It’s not just the financial services industry that’s getting hit by new and increased fees in the government’s budget.

If you import plants, seeds, produce, flowers or trees into the Cayman Islands, your costs for doing so are about to rise.

Also, Cabinet members have approved brand new inspection fees for Department of Agriculture crews’ routine checks at nurseries and garden centres.

“Most of these are existing fees that haven’t been changed in more than 20 years,” Department Acting Assistant Director Brian Crichlow said. “These were long overdue for a change.”

Mr. Crichlow said permit fees are currently charged to anyone who imports plants, trees and produce into Cayman. However, those charges were previously set a $5 for a single import and $40 for multiple imports.

Those fees will now be set on a sliding scale. If the item being imported poses a lower risk of introducing pests or an invasive species, the permit fee will cost less. If that risk is higher, the cost will be higher.

For instance, a single import permit for commercially packaged seeds would cost $10. However, balled or burlap-wrapped trees in containers larger than 40 gallons would cost $100. For multiple imports in a single year, commercial seed import permits will now cost $150; cut flowers and foliage import costs would rise to $750.

Mr. Crichlow said these increased charges, and the new inspection fees, will help the Department of Agriculture off-set its costs, helping fund more extensive checks required on plants that could pose a greater risk to Cayman’s eco-system.

“The whole purpose of the Plants (Importation and Exportation) Law is to prevent the introduction of pests or invasive species of plants,” he said.

Although the department performs inspections of plants at nurseries and gardening centres now, it does not collect fees for that work.

That’s about to change.

Under the new regulations approved by Cabinet last week, there will be a $35 charge per inspection officer per hour during normal working hours. For inspections outside of normal working hours, that charge will rise to $45 per inspection officer per hour.

For special call-out inspections outside of working hours, $90 per inspection officer will be charged for the first hour, and $45 for each additional hour. In cases of call outs that occur on Sundays or public holidays, those charges are $120 for the first hour, and $60 every hour thereafter.

The only inspections which will continue to be provided free are those performed at the airport or airport cargo warehouses.