No strike action planned says GPTA
Minibus Association not registered – Minister Prashad

Kaieteur News
January 9, 2007

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Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manniram Prashad met with Acting President of the Guyana Public Transportation Association (GPTA), Compton Giddings, yesterday to discuss the threatened strike action by minibuses and taxis.

And according to the two officials, no such development, as touted by several members of the Guyana Minibus Association (GMA), is imminent.

The Minister strongly condemned the claims made by the GMA's affiliates, and made it clear that Hilbert Archer was not the president of any association, stressing that the GPTA is the only recognised entity to deal with matters related to public transportation, adding that the GMA is not registered.

The GPTA is scheduled to convene with minibus operators on Wednesday at the Square of the Revolution to talk about issues arising over the past week as a consequence of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) which was implemented on January 1. The minibus operators, meanwhile, have indicated that they would be meeting at the same venue today to chart the way forward.

The Minister insists there is no pending strike action, and that the Guyana Minibus Association (GMA) is not authorised to conduct any such act.

He added that there was no formal meeting with the Ministry and Mr. Archer; rather, Mr. (Clifford) Zammett (Director of Consumer Affairs within the Ministry) and Archer had merely exchanged views about the possibility of gasoline increasing and its implications.

Regarding the increases and frequent fluctuations in prices of the various spares and accessories, the Minister revealed that they are currently analysing those claims.

Preliminary results indicate that auto suppliers in general have not raised their prices. In relation to tyres and spare parts, however, some retailers are offering 10 per cent discounts on old stock.

VAT is designed to allow a competitive business atmosphere so unscrupulous merchants who are taking advantage of the situation are unlikely to thrive much longer as the legal noose tightens.

He added that unlike perishable goods, retailers of vehicle spares buy in large quantities so VAT will not take effect on these items for some time. The Minister added that, taking all factors into consideration, it is fair to assume that “some prices will go down, some will raise and some will remain the same.”

He called on the media to work with the relevant authorities to alleviate the confusion that exists within the public domain regarding VAT.

“I want to work with them…consumer affairs falls under the Ministry and as such it is our responsibility.”

Two years ago when the gasoline price was $810, the ministry intervened and constructed a fare system to compensate, with the understanding that when the price decreased the fares would be similarly adjusted. However, the minibus association failed to comply.

“The ministry does not have the legal authority to fix a fare but from a moral standing, we are asking minibus operators to bear with the transition until the VAT makes its intended impact on the economy… this should be effected by March,” the Minister said.

(Gary Eleazer)