As commuters brace for fare increases following presentation of the 2018 national budget on October 2, maxi-taxi and taxi operators say they will have to work out the ramifications of increases in fuel and taxes on their operations before any cost is passed on to the travelling public.
In the short term at least, Cloyd Williams, President of the Tobago Maxi-Taxi Drivers and Owners Association said there were no plans by his membership to increase fares, but Nolton Roberts, President of the Tobago Taxi- Cab Corporative Society Limited, said an increase was inevitable.
“We will hold a while to see how it affects us but for now we have no plans to increase the fare,” said Williams. He said, however, the association will be liaising with the Trinidad division “to see what is going on and according to decisions made by them then we will say if an increase is necessary.”
On October 2, Finance Minister Colm Imbert, in his budget presentation in Parliament, announced the price of super fuel would be increased from $3.58 to $3.97 per litre and diesel would increase from $2.30 to $3.41 per litre with immediate effect. He also said customs duty on new and used imported tyres would increase from 15 to 30 per cent to be implemented on October 20. He also announced an increase in the vehicle inspection fee from $165 to $300, as at December 1.
Williams told Newsday Tobago that the Association was planning to discuss the impact of increased taxes on motor vehicles and fuel prices on the sector with Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles.
“I think its harsh, it’s about four times now they are raising diesel and gas. Government is trying to build the economy off the automobile industry,” he charged.
“There are other areas they can look into since we in Tobago already feel the full brunt of the tax increase. For us in the automobile industry in Tobago, it means that it will be difficult to bring in a car for tourism purposes,” he said.
Roberts, in pointing to the inevitability of an increase in fares by taxi drivers, could not say when this would take effect.
“There was increase a month ago in several places around Tobago but from Scarborough taxi stands there must be an increase. I cannot say exactly when that will take effect. Normally when the fares are increased, they go up to 10 percent,” he said.
“Given the economic downturn we are in, (and) having an increase on almost everything at one time is really hard since it’s not just the gas that went up, we now have to pay more for tyres, more money for spare parts. It’s a case where when fuel prices increase, everything else will,” he said.
“They (Government) should have never imposed all these taxes at one time. There were increases expected but not so drastic. I’m expecting transportation between Trinidad and Tobago on both air and sea bridges to increase their fares with this hardship we are facing. Things will become harder,” Roberts predicted.