PSVs want duty-free
Morris Lee , the former president and current executive member of Association of Public Transport Operators, gives his comments on tomorrow’s Budget.
Given the uncertainty about the island’s economic future, public service vehicle operators are hoping this Budget will bring to the table much overdue duty-free concessions for the industry.
This is because it is the only sector in the seven areas of transportation in Barbados that does not get duty-free concessions.
Government could also look at a further reduction in road taxes, because the price of fuel has had a devastating impact on the industry. Years ago, before instability in the world market, we were paying $1.45 per litre for diesel. Today, the cost has increased by close to 100 per cent!
Yes we have had a 30 per cent increase in bus fares effective January 1 this year – after 21 year – but the two and a half percentage point increase in value added tax and the 100 per cent hike in the cost of fuel have wiped out the gains one would have expected.
So with those costs having gone up, along with the price of items like tyres and parts, it is still very costly to run a business in this sector. We’re hoping for some adjustment in the fuel price that would have a positive impact on stabilizing the difficulties within the industry.
We provide transport for 75 per cent of the travelling public and we are mindful of the impact of increased bus fares on the people within the lower income bracket who use public transport. So it’s not reasonable to seek a hike in fares, but it is reasonable to ask for an adjustment in expenditure as it relates to running these vehicles.
The fact that the Transport Board’s deficit has climbed in the region of $60 million is testimony to the economic peril that still operates within the industry.