By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo says he is in support of any measure which will bring relief to the people of Guyana, but it should not be done at the expense of investors who stand to lose money.
Jagdeo was at the time referring to the toll reduction of the Berbice River Bridge, which is supposed to take effect from today, September 01; however this has not been done due to a bitter row between the APNU+AFC government and the Berbice Bridge Company.
He told iNews during a telephone interview on August 31 that the government is now facing difficulties in implementing a promise it made during the elections campaign since no consultations were conducted with the officials of the Berbice Bridge.
“So they are running into difficulties to implement the measure. Now, there are several shareholders there and I was very surprised to hear Winston Jordan [Finance Minister] speak about NIS and about its income stream. Since the NIS is one of the major shareholders of the Bridge, they want to remove or reduce the income stream of the Bridge, which would affect NIS returns. They have to work it through with the shareholders,” the Opposition Leader said.
He reiterated that the APNU+AFC government has to find a way of addressing the concerns of everyone involved.
“I’m always in support of things that bring benefits to people, but the implementation cannot at the expense of the NIS, the banking institutions and the private shareholders.”
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan had told the National Assembly that the toll for passenger cars and buses will be reduced from $2,200 to $1,900, a 13.6 percent decline.
At the same time, the toll for all other types of vehicles will be reduced by 10 percent. The Finance Minister revealed that over 150,000 Guyanese live within Regions 5 and 6 and traverse the Berbice Bridge to access education and health services, conduct business and travel on a daily basis and that thousands more traverse the bridge annually.
But the Bridge Company on August 29 had stated that it runs the risk of going bankrupt if the reduction takes effect, pointing out that no consultation was held with the Company officials prior to the reduction being announced.
The government however intends to provide a subsidy to the Bridge Company in order to prevent major losses.