Tuesday 18 June, 2019

Imbert: Taxi fare hikes would be 'punitive'

“If the cost of super gasoline has gone up by $1, why should a taxi fare go up by $1?”

This was the question posed by Finance Minister Colm Imbert as he responded to concerns that the $1 fare hike on super gasoline will affect citizens, particularly the travelling public, more than Government anticipated.

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The Minister announced the increase in the cost of super gasoline to $4.97 per litre, from $3.97 per litre when he read the 2019 Budget in Parliament on Monday.

The cost of diesel remained unchanged at $3.41 per litre – a measure the Minister said was deliberately taken in an effort to keep the cost of transportation and goods and services at affordable prices so as not to drive up the cost of living.

Cooking gas remains subsidised at this time.

The Minister assured that the move would be of particular benefit to lower income earners as Government has taken these savings from the reduction on the fuel subsidy on super gasoline and channelled it into social benefits including food cards and special grants.

“I look at these things all the time. It does not make rational sense. But, if it is that 30 percent or 40 percent of your costs have gone up by 20 percent, then you should raise your fares by eight percent.”

“The cost of a taxi is the taxi itself, so it’s the purchase of the taxi, the repairs and servicing to the taxi, then the fuel and then the labour for the person who is driving the taxi. There are a number of elements when arriving at the fare.”

Imbert said given these factors, for taxi drivers to consider raising their fares by a dollar simply because the cost of super gasoline has increased by $1, is “punitive”.

“The cost to them, per passenger, is not a dollar. It might be 10 cents or 15 cents when you add in all of those costs – buying the taxi, repairing the taxi and paying the driver, it is a lot less.”

He said the marginal increase could be far less than the dollar increase on super gasoline.

There has so far been no indication from any taxi associations that fares will be increased over the latest fuel cost increase.


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