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Minibus Union opposes drop in fares; favours some free riders

The United Minibus Union (UMU) on Monday virtually ruled out a reduction in fares, despite an appeal by government on grounds that the price of fuel being sold by the Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil) has been reduced significantly.

UMU President, Eon Andrews said that he might be more in favour of school children under 12 years old travelling free during off-peak hours and pensioners being allowed to do so around the clock. “The bus people can’t seek to have everything for themselves. They have to get a spin-off from everything,” he told Caribbean News Desk.

Ahead of a meeting of the UMU’s Executive, Andrews said that his organization expected the Ministry of Commerce to call a meeting with the representatives of transportation providers.  Pending any such meeting, he said that minibus operators would reap profits on the existing fares. “I think that the Ministry should take the lead now in inviting us in because basically if the bus people are going to gain for a period of time until negotiations or talks are concluded then we will exploit that moratorium,” he said. The UMU boss added that commuters would also have to lodge complaints with their leaders.

Andrews said that in any such talks with government, consideration should be given to an increase in spares and other operational costs.

Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) hope that with the 30 percent average reduction in the reduction in gasoline and diesel prices, there would be spin-off effect.

“I wish also to urge the providers of transportation services, including public transportation, to consider passing on these reductions in fuel prices immediately to the customers and the travelling public,” said the Finance Minister.

“The Private Sector Commission is hopeful that the reduction in fuel prices will be passed on to the average consumer in the form of lower costs for transportation and other goods and services,” according to that business organization.

The Finance Minister announced that from Monday midnight gasoline would be retailed at GYD$695 per gallon, compared to GYD$995 per gallon currently, a 30 percent reduction; diesel will now be retailed at GYD$694 per gallon, compared to GYD$985 per gallon currently, also a 30 percent reduction and kerosene will now be retailed at GYD$496 per gallon, compared to GYD$850 per gallon currently, a 42 percent reduction.

Singh further announced that in keeping with the established mechanism to adjust excise taxes on fuel, notwithstanding the price reductions, gasoline would now attract excise tax at a rate of 50 percent, and diesel at a rate of 45 percent, with effect Tuesday morning. These rates will continue to be adjusted upwards and downwards as the world market price fluctuates. Government will continue not to charge any excise tax on kerosene.

Government hopes that other fuel importers and suppliers will follow GuyOil’s lead and reduce their prices. The Finance Minister called on transportation providers to reduce their fares now that fuel prices have been reduced at the pump.