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Stated date for Berbice Bridge toll reduction un-doable, Cabinet to again address matter

Tomorrow September 1, 2015 should be the commencement date for the Berbice Bridge toll reduction, but this 100 day promise iss now undoable since the bridge company has not given the government the go ahead.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced during his Budget speech weeks ago that the bridge toll would reduce from $2,200 to $1,900 for minibuses and cars, while other vehicles are reduced by 10percent.

The government is expected to cushion the company’s losses as a result of the reduction, but the Finance Minister said that the company seems unwilling. He said Monday August 31 that, “There has been no word in regards to the company,” and would be setting a press release to correct some inaccuracies the Bridge Company published over the weekend on the matter.

The minister said, “It (reduction) looks like it will not happen,” for the stated date, but urges that public wait for a definite outcome on Wednesday since the matter has to be taken back to Cabinet which will be held tomorrow, Tuesday.

“It was part of the 100 day plan, and this matter would have to go to Cabinet,” Jordan clarified. He told the media last Thursday that the government was concerned about the company’s “delaying and dilatory manoeuvres (which) appear designed to frustrate the reduction in the tolls and hold the travelling public hostage.”

In their public response to the government’s statement, the bridge company said that should the reduction specifications not done how they want, the company risks bankruptcy.

They cited several financial explanations why the toll could end the financial life of the company. However, Jordan had indicated last Thursday, that there should be no complaints by the company since the losses from the reduction would be paid in subsidies upfront to the company. And at the end of the financial period the company would state if based on actual operations, whether the government has to pay more to the company.

For this 2015 budget alone which caters for four months, the government would subsidize some $36m and expects to provide more than $100m in a whole year’s budget.

The Berbice Bridge was the former People’s Progressive Party government creation which did not find favour with many stakeholders given the secrecy of the project although substantial sums were used from State entity NIS.

The government is adamant that the current bridge toll is “burden” on travelers.