Trade Unions, Private Sector, consumers calling on Govt to cushion high fuel prices

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The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) is the latest body to speak out against the sharp increase in fuel prices recorded at the pump stations across Guyana.

Guyanese consumers pay almost double for fuel when compared to consumers of some developed countries

State-owned, Guyana Oil Company Limited (GuyOil ) Service Stations have increased their gasoline prices from $200 per litre, to $230, while diesel and kerosene have leaped to $214 per litre and $145 per litre, respectively.

Moreover, observations at other service stations have revealed that Shell Gas Stations now offer gasoline at $247, and diesel at a $233, while Rubis service stations are charging $236 for a litre of gasoline and $226 for diesel.

FITUG said in a release that while there is not much that can be done to curb the increase in fuel prices since it is determined globally by the rise in oil prices, it recalled in the past “that oil prices, in some instances, exceeded the current international prices but policies were embraced which sought to cushion the local impact. Here, we refer to the reduction of the excise tax which, in effect, helped to soften, and in some cases nullified, the increased prices due to increases at the global level and which was a welcome effort that gave our people room to breathe.”

According to FITUG, “reduction of the taxes on fuel, undoubtedly, will bring some reprieve to our already overburdened working people. In recent times, our workers and their families have had to contend with new taxes, increases in extant taxes, higher cost of food, apart from increases in essential and necessary items.”

FITUG contends that no person would be spared as the increased costs of fuel will be passed on to the consumer in one way or another. “Apart from the increased living costs, the higher prices of fuel will also affect our business sector which, by itself, is facing difficult and hard times. Such a situation, undoubtedly, could have a spill off effect on employment and make a bad situation even worse.”

Additionally, the Unions body said that as far as it is aware no attempt has been made to embrace such a policy (reduction of the excise tax) by the incumbent Administration, while outlining that there is hardly any credible justification that can be advanced for not moving in that direction.

“The fact that such moves, long overdue in our view, are not in train, says a lot. We are aware of a view that the Government’s inaction, or reluctance as it were, has to do with its need to have monies available to satisfy its insatiable spending. That spending, as we well know, has not always been in the interest of our people.

“Here, for instance, the FITUG cannot fail to recall the seldom used Durban Park; or the ‘greening’ of several Government offices and buildings; or the massive structure that now envelopes the Ministry of the Presidency; or travel to exotic locales in all corners of the world; or the rental of a bottom-house drug bond, among other things which cannot be held up or justified as wise spending” said FITUG.

Meanwhile, the private sector is also calling for measures to be put in place to ensure the effects are not filtered to businesses and consumers.

However, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin was quoted as saying that the matter is yet to be discussed by Cabinet.

As the prices continue to increase operators within the transportation sector have begun increasing their fares for passengers to travel.

Moreover, this publication was informed that several East Coast Demerara bus operators on Wednesday refused to carry passengers as they parked their vehicles at the Lusignan tarmac in protest of the high fuel prices.

Just recently, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Irfaan Ali had urged the coalition Government to give some serious consideration to reducing the high prices of fuel on the market.

Ali recalled when his party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was in Government, they had constantly adjusted the tax regime to cushion the effects of fluctuation in fuel prices on the international market.

He said this was aimed at ensuring that all Guyanese were protected from increases in their expenditure.

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