Two days after the Guyana Oil Company (Guyoil) announced an “upward movement” in fuel prices nationwide, motorists on Tuesday shared mixed views on the increases, and many still bemoaned the addition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity bills.
Some operators are of the view that the increases are not significant enough to warrant increases in bus fares while others opined that the compounded increases of taxes will “pressure” the poorer class of Guyanese.
“It will affect we a great lot because the whole issue about raising the gas, we as bus drivers [will have] to probably raise our bus fares also because it will carry great effect on us with parts, etc,” Route 41 minibus driver Keith Daniels expressed.
He noted that the VAT included on the specified categories of electricity bills will only make it harder for the poorer class of Guyanese.
“The VAT is kind of hard for poor people; we can’t really make it right now. It only look like we going somewhere but we aint going nowhere,” the driver added.
Route 32 bus operator, Mahesh Budram, who has been driving for the past 30 years, explained that as he makes a few trips a day, and he does not intend to raise his fares.
“We can’t kill de people because they salary what dem ah get can’t really do for maintain themselves,” he reasoned. Budram however noted that with the incoming parking meters in the city, business people stand to be impacted since drivers may opt against parking. He also criticised the increase in certain tolls at the Demerara Harbour Bridge.
Meantime, a passenger in Budram’s vehicle, Joe Beharry, said all of the recent increases have amounted to “too much pressure” being placed on consumers.
“[It’s] too much pressure on the consumers because the salary what they getting cannot offset these additional expenses and the Government promised us a good life [but] I don’t know if this is part of the good life,” the businessman noted.
He stressed that while fluctuation in gas prices is something that can’t be controlled, the compounded increases in taxes, is adding “pressure” to the local populace.
“The gas price would now and then go up and come down back – you can’t really control that but with all the other tax you got to pay, too much pressure,” Beharry pointed out.
The businessman also indicated that Government can foster economic growth by way of offering tax breaks, incentives and concessions to encourage persons to expand their business operations.
Route 42 operator, Gary Young, noted that the fuel increase would not affect him, since the bus fares will remain the same at the $190 rate, which is manageable. Fellow Route 42 operator, Luellen Austin explained that gas prices remain high in Guyana, even though world prices remain low.
“It wouldn’t affect me in anyway because at the end of the day if we keep noise about it, it doesn’t matter because gas prices forever low and we still paying at a high rate in Guyana,” he explained.
On New Year’s Day, Guyoil announced nationwide increases in fuel prices for its products, citing rising prices on the world market. The new price structures which took effect on January 2, 2017, saw the gasoline price jumping by $12 to $190 per litre while kerosene and gasoil prices increased by $5 per litre.
Business Minister Dominic Gaskin on Monday described the increase as “fairly small”, noting that prices not too long ago were reduced when fuel on the world market declined. However, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in the National Assembly and Opposition Member of Parliament, Irfaan Ali had explained that as there was only a US$2 increase in world prices for oil, Government could have adjusted the tax rate to cushion the effect of the increase. He had also stressed that Government cannot only attribute the movement in the prices on the international market.
When fuel prices were reduced back in October 2016, Guyoil said it was in keeping with its policy of “passing on favourable prices to the Guyanese populace” whenever possible.