Some buses still charging higher fares
-despite widespread drop in gasoline price
Stabroek News
January 18, 2003

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Gasoline prices have gone down to as low as $416 per gallon from a high of $475 following the government's reduction of the consumption tax (c-tax) on fuel, but some minibuses are continuing to enforce fare increases.

While many operators have gradually reverted to old fare structures, mainly those plying the routes in and around the city; others plying the route from Georgetown to areas on the East Bank (42) and East Coast (41) and West Demerara (31 and 32) are enforcing higher fares for shorter drops. Many who continue to operate by the old fare structures are overloading their minibuses to compensate.

Most Route 44 operators travelling the Georgetown to the University of Guyana route have reverted to the old fare structure, though a small minority continue to press passengers for increases citing gasoline prices which they claim are still high. This is the argument for those transporting passengers from the city to areas such as Buxton and Victoria on the East Coast.

But at the major gas stations yesterday gasoline could be bought for as low as $416 per gallon and as high as $427 and this includes outlets on the East Coast.

However some operators are complaining that at some filling stations, particularly on the East Bank and on the West Demerara they are continuing to pay an average of $450 per gallon.

In other developments a statement from the Guyana Petrol Station Dealers Association (GPSDA) says the public must understand that when government announces a drop in taxes it does not mean that all service stations would drop their prices immediately. "Some will have thousands of gallons of products in their tanks, paid for at the high price, therefore it is only reasonable that the dealers sell out this stock before changing to the new price."

The GPSDA further stated that prices would only change immediately if dealers get a rebate for the losses they would suffer.

The GPSDA also issued a call to government to implement a system similar to that in Barbados where the Public Utilities Commission handles the wholesale and retail pricing for fuel, in order that there be a level playing field.

At his weekly post-cabinet press briefing Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon however said that cabinet at its deliberations on Tuesday "examined several options that can be exercised by central government to confront the excesses of the dealers and taxi and minibus operators."

Luncheon further stated that it was government's expectation that the remission in consumption tax would have led to an immediate lowering of prices at the pump just as the increases in acquisition costs, according to him, led to immediate hikes at the fuel pump.

On Tuesday, Minister of Commerce, Manzoor Nadir threatened to place public transportation under a regulatory agency if minibus operators continued to impose unreasonable passenger fare increases.

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