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Govt fast-tracking subsidy agreement with Berbice Bridge

With 14 days remaning before the tolls of the Berbice Bridge are reduced, government is hurrying to conclude a formal, written agreement with the Berbice Bridge Company Inc (BBCI) for its provision of a subsidy toward the reduction of the tolls.

This agreement, which government is looking to conclude before the end of the 2015 Budget debates, is to include a fixed amount which government will pay over the company on a monthly basis, and a reconciliation process through which it determine whether the ,monthly payment was adequate, or otherwise.

 This is according to Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, who made the disclosure to Demerara Waves Online News on Monday. Presenting highlights of the 2015 Estimates on August 10th, Jordon had announced that the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Chance (AFC) coalition government has reached an agreement with the BBCI so that “with effect from September 1, 2015, the toll for passenger cars and buses will be reduced from $2,200 to $1,900, as 13.6 percent decline.”

He further announced that “the toll for other types of vehicles will be reduced by 10 percent.” The initiative is to be a phased reduction, Jordan has said.  

This was only agreed to verbally though, says Jordon, who explained that further details are to be worked out with the company during a meeting this week, and that he expects that the agreement will “be finalised before the budget debates are over.”

Speaking on the amount government will be paying over to the company on a monthly basis, Jordan said Monday, “we have an idea and during the course of the budget debates this week we will announce whatever is the subsidy.”

Pressed on the matter, declined to share the exact amount “because we have to finalise the agreement with the bridge people.” He did share, however, that “it will be a fixed sum per month, and every quarter we will audit.”

The audit, he said “will be conducted each month to determine whether we owe them or whether they owe us whether they owe us.” Speaking further on the importance of an audit in the arrangement, Jordan said “we must reconcile because we’re doing it by how much car pass and so.”