Fuel hikes gamesmanship

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert - SUREASH CHOLAI
Minister of Finance Colm Imbert - SUREASH CHOLAI


AS A concerned citizen, I write regarding the misinformation and political gamesmanship citizens are being subjected to regarding the Minister of Finance’s announcement to partially remove the subsidy on fuel.

Let me say off the bat that I own a car and that I understand that the tank will now cost more to fill up. That is a given and no increase in my daily costs is totally welcomed. However, when I am told this will now mean that $800 million will no longer be used to support fuel prices that largely reduce the fuel bills of people driving vehicles much larger and more expensive than mine’s, I am forced to admit that I would much prefer to see that money used to support small businessmen like myself in getting grants and soft loans for expansion, etc.

I would like to see the Ministers of Finance, Trade and Industry and others tell us small businessmen where we can see these hundreds of millions of dollars being redirected so that all citizens can benefit. In the same way citizens have been promised that property tax will improve our communities, as it does in other countries, show us as well where this partial removal of the subsidy will do the same.

One of the decisions I now have to make is to car pool or use public transport in the form of PTSC buses or maxi taxis on some days to reduce my gas consumption. Travel on buses is subsidised beyond the gas subsidy and I think the time is perfect for PTSC to step up its game and add more value to the citizens of this country by improving the experience of public transport in every way.

As for the maxi taxis, I am very certain that late last year they increased their fares as a result of the reduced number of people allowed to travel in their vehicles. Those fares have not dropped as a result of the restrictions being lifted so the traveling public should wait to see what maxi taxi associations will do.

Will they be responsible or will they take advantage of the situation for their own benefit? Unfortunately, our experience in this country is that the latter is much more likely, but we can hope.

And on that note I can return to my pet peeve: politicians taking every opportunity to advance themselves regardless of the effect it will have on the country. I read a newspaper report on the Opposition parading five-gallon prop water bottles with what appeared to be gas. The Opposition is blaming the Government for the increase in gas prices along with the prices of food and of course it threw in property tax for good measure – because the word tax scares everyone.

Can we for once recognise that globally prices for fuel and food have increased substantially because of supply issues that started with covid19’s impact on shipping? That is a simple fact that only needs a two-minute Google search.

The war in Ukraine will also increase fuel and food prices because of the amount of the world’s wheat that is grown in that region, the sanctions on Russia and the disruption to shipping routes in that region. Again this is two clicks on the internet.

We cannot expect this country to not be affected by major global activity. For too long governments shielded us from these things either because they thought the oil and gas wouldn’t run out, they thought it was the right thing to do or, most likely, they had an election to win.

He may not be the most likable but at least the Minister of Finance has the fortitude to take a hard decision simply because it’s the right decision.

As for the Opposition UNC and its antics on social media, the MSJ and the PDP with their gas marches and the PEP with its flung-together new association, I hope the nation sees them all for what they are – politics playing out before a local government election and parties looking for relevance with a population still suffering as a result of the economic downturn and covid19 restrictions.

It is time for us all to take a look at how we consume food, fuel, electricity and water. Those are global concerns in the 21st century and they need to be our concerns if we want to be a 21st-century nation.


"Fuel hikes gamesmanship"

More in this section