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Fisherfolk brace for fuel levy


SDB MEDIA

Fisherfolk brace for fuel levy

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Some fisherfolk are willing to bite the bullet and throw their support behind the new 40 cents per litre levy on fuel. But others are sceptical.

Boat owners Hallam Mayers and Tony Carter maintained that though the charge would affect their pockets, they were willing to support Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s policies as set out in her first phase of a three-part economic and transformation recovery plan a week ago. The levy replaces road tax from July 1.

Mayers, who operated from the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex, said that small boats which moored in Oistins, Christ Church, and fished for barracuda with a gas bill of $100 per day, would be impacted, but “we got to prepare to bite the bullet”.

“It will carry we expense higher and as things go on and boss woman take a review, she would know what she got to do because she belong to we; we would look after she. We gine bear the little grind for now ’cause we in it and we got to get out. And we will try we best to bear with it,” he said, promising not to pass on the costs to vendors.

Both wanted a crane at Oistins to lower the costs of hauling in boats, however.

Alvin Wilson, owner of Aliva, says he would wait to see how the levy would affect him.

He told said he usually spent $1 500 in diesel for an eight to ten-day trip out to sea and anticipated the increase could cost him about $500 to $800 more. He also said some boats now paid more than $3 000 in fuel a trip depending on the horsepower of the engine.

Donna Phillips, owner of two boats, Jadon and Oshurtal, who operates from the Weston, St James, Speightstown, St Peter, and Bridgetown markets, said increased operational costs meant higher fish prices.

She suggested the industry be given concessions and that Government instead raise the fees in the individual markets from 75 cents per day for the use of water and electricity, to a $5 per day. According to her, this was so that everybody felt the burden instead of placing it only on the boat owners.

Phillips, who employs about 20 people across the three markets and boats, stressed it was a bad move that fisherfolk were not exempted from the tax.

“We will have to get in to the business of selling boats just now and get out of the fishing business . . . . When the boats feel it, we will have to push it out to the consumers and that is not good. So we got to make sure that we operate on a minimal,” she added.

Winston Jones, who owns three boats, said he believed fisherfolk would be spared from the fee.

“I don’t think the 40 cents per litre will affect us because this is for road tax and they don’t got road tax ’pon boats. There never had road tax on boats before . . . . I ain’t follow the Budget, I ain’t follow nothing, but what I’m saying is if 40 cents gone on diesel, what I understand is it will not get down to the fishing boats.

“I will wait and see because if it get down to the fishing boats, it will [have] a very bad effect on the fishing industry,” reasoned Jones. (SDB Media)

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