Bus owners call for reduction of fuel c-tax
East Bank fares to rise today
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
January 8, 2003

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The Guyana Public Trans-portation Association (GPTA) is calling on the Government to reduce the Consumption Tax (C-Tax) on fuel to help minibus operators control fares for passengers.

Failing this, the Association says it will begin negotiations with consumer associations with a view to implementing increases. Fuel prices have recently gone as high as $475 due to a strike in Guyana’s main supplier Venezuela.

Many passengers on the East Coast route were forced to pay higher fares yesterday. Other operators are proposing implementing increases from today.

Acting President of the GPTA, Compton Giddings, met with Minister of Commerce Manzoor Nadir yesterday and made the offer. He said if the government could lower the C-Tax, allowing the price of gasoline to drop to around $420 per gallon, the Association was proposing to hold off from increasing fares at least for one month. The C-Tax is presently 50% for gasoline and 25% for diesel and in the past Government has reduced the rate once fuel prices climb over $400.

A meeting is planned for tomorrow between the GPTA, the Ministry, the consumer associations and the other stakeholders.

On Monday Nadir described the proposed increases by some operators as premature and unreasonable since some operators proposed increases between 33-50%, while fuel prices had increased by an estimated 13%. There was some talk among operators of a possible strike today, but Giddings said the association’s negotiations were aimed at avoiding any possible industrial action.

Fares up or going up

Operators of Route 44 (Georgetown-Mahaica) yesterday enforced new prices on some commuters, increasing short drops from $30 to $40 and from $40 to $60 from Georgetown to destinations such as Vryheid’s Lust. Rates were increased from $30 to $40; $40 to $60; $60 to $80; $80 to $100; $100 to $120 and $120 to $140, along this route yesterday.

However not all minibuses enforced these new rates as some commuters, especially those travelling to areas just outside of Georgetown, refused to pay the new prices. According to some operators commuters travelling significant distances such as to Buxton and Victoria, were paying the increases.

Meanwhile, operators plying the Georgetown to Timehri routes (Route 42) are intent on increasing their fares from today.

When Stabroek News visited the park yesterday operators said they could no longer absorb the increasing fuel prices and surging maintenance costs.

Their proposed increases range from $30 to $40 for short drops; $40 to $50 from G\Town to Eccles; $50 to $60 from G\Town to Herstelling; $60 to $80 from G\Town to Grove; $80 to $100 from G\Town to Friendship; $100 to $120 from G\Town to Supply and $140 to $200 for transportation from G\Town to Timehri.

These operators, as did operators plying the Georgetown to Parika route (Route 32), cited similar problems and complaints of passengers refusing to pay the current fixed prices for travel. Route 42 driver\owner Roy Pariag said this resulted in operators making a loss and they also had to bear the brunt of fuel increases.

Route 32 operators are however approaching the increase, in a more conservative manner, by not going the route of lobbying for increases but rather rigidly enforcing the current rates for transportation. “We are looking at restraint,” driver Rudolph Green said.

At the Route 40 (Kitty-Campbellville) `car park’, some operators were already working with increased fares while Route 41 operators were considering implementing increases as early as possible to make up for losses suffered due to the fuel increase, which they say both government and petrol dealers fail to consider.

Charles Woon-A-Tai of the Petrol Dealers Association noted that this was the common perception when fuel prices increase. But he said that the Association was concerned over the increasing prices since petrol dealers were also likely to suffer losses. He explained that they would have to invest more to purchase fuel and owing to the corresponding increases at the gas pumps, he said the return was not there on the part of the consumers who now purchase less.

He said he had seen at least a 25-30% drop in volume. He also offered the reduction of the C-tax as a solution to the problem, as was done two years ago.

“Some level of relief could be granted to the consumer in that regard.”

An alternative arrangement he said would be to allow the oil companies, with the exception of the state-owned Guyoil to source their supplies from their multinational parent company which may afford them access to cheaper supplies.

Currently Guyana is getting supplies from Trinidad and Tobago, however Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), Joseph O’Lall said yesterday that local oil companies have been granted permission to independently source their fuel supplies. O’Lall, told Stabroek News that this decision was taken since the Venezuelan oil strike. O’Lall is currently securing fuel for Guyoil through Trinidad.

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