— as Minister Singh announces cut in excise tax on fuel
By Rehana Ahamad
GOVERNMENT will be lowering the excise tax rate on both gasoline and diesel from 50 per cent to 35 per cent with immediate effect. This pleasant announcement was made on Wednesday night by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.
“As a result of the reduction in the excise tax rates, the price at the pump will also be reduced with immediate effect. Specifically, gasoline prices are expected to reduce from $184 per litre to $170 per litre, and diesel prices from $170 per litre to $160 per litre,” Singh specified.
The minister observed that over the past few months, oil prices have risen steadily on the world market, from US$35 a barrel in late October 2020 to over US$60 a barrel at close of trade on Wednesday. As a result of this steady increase on the world market, fuel prices have also been rising on the domestic market. Singh said that
Government’s reduction in the excise taxes serves as means of easing the impact that this rise would have on local consumers, particularly the travelling public as well as those productive sectors for whom fuel is an important input.
Minister Singh explained that, during its previous term in office, “the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government had put in place arrangements to adjust the excise tax rate on fuel from time to time to cushion the domestic impact of world market price fluctuation, and that the current tax adjustment is being effected using this previously established mechanism.”
The announcement by Minister Singh is welcomed news for a group of minibus operators plying route #50 (Georgetown to West Coast Berbice). About a dozen of them on Wednesday, armed themselves with placards which read, “We need gas prices to drop”.
Speaking on behalf of the minibus operators, Rawana Ali, who relies on his minibus operations to make ends meet, lamented the fact that increased fuel prices are not always met with a proliferation of minibus fares.
“Since I was working hire car during the (Guyana to Suriname) ferry time, the bus fares here remain the same thing; we don’t get no increase, and really and truly, it very tough for us to work under such conditions,” the Bath Settlement resident noted.
He indicated too that the advent of the novel corona virus has served to compound challenges faced by minibus operators in Region Five. Ali said that while minibuses are required to abide by the COVID-19 guidelines by reducing capacity of the passengers, they are not allowed to demand hike in fares.
“Then too, people are afraid to travel; people are afraid to go out, so all the work that we tend to get kind of come down a little. You nah having any jobs on the road; just in the mornings and in the afternoon,” Ali posited.
“Is either two things; is either the Government put a reduction price on the tax on the gas so that they can bring it down back, or we gon have to raise the bus fares,” the minibus owner concluded.
Minister Singh on Wednesday emphasised that the recent adjustments are “in keeping with the strong ongoing commitment by President Irfaan Ali’s Government to ensure that domestic customers are protected from sharp price escalation on the world market and from cost of living increases”.
Deputy General Manager of the Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil), Molly Hassan, told the Guyana Chronicle that global oil prices have been a rapid rise since last year September-October.
“Our increases here in Guyana have been at minimum; we try to keep cost as minimal as possible,” she said, noting that GuyOil, over the past few months, has been operating with minimal profits, in an effort to maintain Government’s objective of stabilising oil prices locally.