Private service vehicles (PSV) operators are calling for a review of the excise tax on fuel with Government’s removal of the subsidy on gasoline and diesel. Interim chairman of the Association of Private Transport Operators (APTO), Morris Lee, said the reversal of the excise tax was one of the options being considered by PSV operators to avoid an increase in bus fares.
“There may be other cost-cutting measures that could be taken to reduce the cost of doing business,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that APTO would only request an increase in bus fares as a last resort.
An estimated 525 PSVs, which employ more than 4,000 people, are expected to be affected by the Government decision. Lee said the dire situation facing bus operators was compounded by “unfair competition” from the Transport Board.
“The impact of the increase in fuel does not only affect the owners of the vehicles, but the workers since their remuneration is joined to the takings that the owners receive on a daily basis. So once the expenditure goes up and the daily takings reduce, it will impact on both the pockets of the owners and the workers,” he said.
“That has opened the door for unfair competition, because even though the commuter pays the same $2 . . . the Transport Board gets $6 per passenger because when the community pays $2, the subsidy gives the Transport Board another $4 on top of that.
“So we are tied to this $2, but the Transport Board essentially is benefiting from unfair competition because we do not have recourse for subsidies when we lose money.”
PSV operators are due to meet on April 27 to discuss the problems caused by the removal of the fuel subsidy, after an emergency meeting scheduled for Solidarity House yesterday failed to get the desired response. Organizers said late notice was responsible for fewer than 20 people turning up.