…I do not set fuel prices, minibus fares- Minister Gaskin
Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin on Monday confirmed that Government will be reviewing the proposal submitted by the minibus association with regards to the hike in fuel prices countrywide.
“They have provided a proposal, I will share it with the responsible Ministers and then some one of them will make a proposal to Cabinet for what we should do because there are a number of options and different options come under different Ministers’ responsibility so it’s not a done deal as yet, we have to discuss that some more,” he told media operatives.
However, the Minister maintained that his Ministry is not responsible for fuel prices nor setting minibus fares.
“I think you have the wrong information. Our Consumer Affairs department met with minibus association, just to hear their concerns and they have provided a proposal to me through the Department but I don’t set fuel prices and I’m not the Minister responsible for fixing minibus fares,” he explained.
According to him, his Ministry just intervenes from a consumer point of view to find out what the real concerns are and to engage as the transportation sector is vital.
“The transportation sector is an important sector in any case and we can’t have people out there protesting when all that is required is proper engagement” he asserted.
Gas station prices for fuel has increased rapidly from $215 per litre to prices ranging from $230 to $250 per litre.
Since the hike, there have been widespread protests and fears of public transportation strikes, with fares being increased for specific routes in some cases.
Just recently there were reports of minibus operators blocking and burning tires along the East Coast railway embankment in protest of the higher fuel prices.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) had been among those calling for government to act swiftly to protect consumers.
Recently the President of the United Minibus Union (UMU), Eon James supported by leaders and representatives of several minibus routes, threatened to hike public transport fares.
Moreover, James noted that the Union would be unwilling to lower the proposed fare hike even if the price for gasoline decreased, since they are faced with many burdensome expenditures, which are also compounded by the fluctuating gas prices.
On the heels of being criticised for its ‘inaction’ in relation to rising gas prices, the government earlier in June 2018 had indicated that one of the options on the table is providing subventions to cushion the international hikes.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson had affirmed that his Ministry and other Government agencies have been engaging the minibus operators on the issue, and the minibus association has been asked to document their grievances.
Moreover, when pressed on the exact measures being taken by Government to address the issue, Patterson said that subventions are being considered.