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Montevideo, April 25th 2024 - 08:32 UTC



Uruguay: River travel surcharge to trigger legal challenges

Wednesday, February 21st 2024 - 10:23 UTC
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It's like charging only thieves for keeping the police operational, Colonia Express' lawyer argued It's like charging only thieves for keeping the police operational, Colonia Express' lawyer argued

Buquebús and Colonia Express, the two shipping companies providing regular passenger services between Argentina and Uruguay, announced this week that they planned to challenge President Luis Lacalle Pou's decree creating a US$ 2.56 surcharge for passengers arriving or leaving at the ports of Colonia and Montevideo.

According to the measure, starting in May this year all tickets sold by both companies for travel in February 2025.

Read also: Surcharge imposed on ship travel to/from Uruguay

The same “Security Service Fee” would also be applied to cruise ship passengers.

The Uruguayan government seeks to finance with this collection a state-of-the-art immigration control system. Local tour operators on the Uruguayan side view the initiative as a deterrent once the activity is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic recession. They claim that such a surcharge would have a negative effect on Argentine travelers given the disparity in the currency exchange rate.

Lawyer Julio Facal, who represents the Chamber of Tourism as well as Colonia Express, told La Diaria that his company and also Buquebús planned to file an appeal of unconstitutionality against Lacalle Pou's decree. “Both companies are going in the same direction: to file an appeal against the decree without eradicating other types of actions, such as an injunction.”

In Facal's view, the surcharge is a tax “disguised as a burden and cost to a single activity, instead of distributing it proportionally among all the individuals that pass through the border crossings.”

“It is an essential service that should be provided by the State. I do not choose to go through a border crossing, they cannot charge only the two river companies a kind of service fee that is not given. It is a specific fee to finance a cost that is a service that the State must provide,” he went on.

Facal said that the measure was tantamount to charging only thieves to keep the police operational. A toll “is to improve a road,” while in this case “they charge for something that the State must do” in any case and with no benefit for the user. “We understand that it is unconstitutional because setting it by decree cannot be done, it should be done by law. It has doubtful legality,” the lawyer insisted.


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