Felicity taxi drivers await decision on fuel subsidy to adjust fares


FILE PHOTO: The Felicity taxi stand, Marie Street, Chaguanas. –

The Felicity Taxi Association has put a hold on increasing their fares until they have a clear idea of where government is taking fuel liberalisation.

Speaking with Newsday on Saturday, its president Keith Bhiki said the decision to increase and by how much will be dependent on the removal of fuel subsidies.

“We are awaiting the decision on gasoline subsidies and if we adjust our prices now, then when the subsidies are removed, we would not be able to make any further adjustments on our fares.”

On Friday the association issued a statement which said while they have endured 18 months of a capacity reduction of 50 per cent and 75 per cent, together with an increase with vehicle maintenance and increase in vehicle parts prices, an increase in fares will be put on hold until further notice.

Bhiki said bad roads had continued to damage the vehicles of drivers in the association and maintenance had become very expensive as well.

He added that passengers were supportive of the association’s decision since they understood the struggles the taxi drivers encountered over the past year.

“The people who travel regularly have no problem. They know and understand the situation right now, because prices for a lot of things have risen. We all know that as long as covid19 is here, we are not going to get back a 100 per cent transport capacity.”

He said the increases would most likely affect off-route passengers.

Bhiki also said the taxi drivers were not able to access the one-time fuel relief grants issued by the government to assist with economic impacts as a result of the covid19 pandemic.

“The grant was $750 for all we have lost and in order to get that grant a driver would have to take a day off because the process is so cumbersome. A driver who does that stands to lose about $300, that just does not make sense.”

Finance Minister Colm Imbert in Parliament in the 2021/2022 budget presentation on Monday said fuel prices – premium, super and diesel – will be adjusted in a move toward fuel liberalisation.

“The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries (will) post the market-based price of premium gasoline, super gasoline and diesel on the first day of each month, except for the price of kerosene and LPG, which will remain under the subsidy mechanism.

“The government (is) setting a retail margin ceiling for each petroleum product to minimise price fluctuations and to protect the end consumers of premium gasoline, super gasoline and diesel.”

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