Nov 01, 2008 News
The ultimate course of action to regulate the correlation between the cost of fuel and the fare imposed by the owners and operators of public transportation could be aptly controlled by a statutory regime.
And, according to Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon, such a provision exists under the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
His disclosure came in wake of the drop in the prices of fuel, a development which has not yet been reflected in public transportation fares.
“I would be the first to concede that the providers (owners and operators) of public transportation might not have been inclined to do what we expected…to lower prices,” Dr Luncheon said.
He pointed out that when the acquisition cost of fuel rose, strenuous efforts were made to make a linkage between the price of fuel and the cost of transportation.
According to Dr Luncheon, the price for fuel had reached an all-time high of US$147 per barrel when strident calls were made to increase fares. However, he noted that now that the fuel price is going in the opposition direction, even as low as US$65 per barrel, for some reason the linkage between fuel cost and fare seems to no longer exist.
And while the current situation is not unexpected, Dr Luncheon asserted, the real question hinges on what are the options that could be examined to address the situation.
He relayed that one immediate resort could be public sanctions for the administration to wage a public offensive against the behaviour of the providers of public transportation, and to put them at odds, particularly with the transporting public.
“Some may respond to that level of public sanction…but some may ignore us and still charge,” he speculated.
He said that the ultimate course of action would be to have a statutory regime to control the prices of the service being provided.
Dr Luncheon said that the transportation sector could find itself in a similar position as the water, electricity and telecommunication sectors, where the prices are equivalent to tariffs.
In essence, he noted, the owners and operators could in fact find themselves in a “back against the wall” situation if such an intervention is engaged.
“Once you provide a public service, your tariff could be under review. We are hoping that wisdom will prevail and that there will be no need necessarily to resort to such an option, since we do believe that public sanction and exposure may very well do the trick,” Dr Luncheon noted.
Additionally, he related, another way of addressing the situation is simply by having the state provide the public transportation service.
According to the Cabinet Secretary, the Government had tendered and continues to examine the cost of big buses as well as small buses. At the same time, he said, the whole transport system is being examined with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), adding that there remain a number of steps to be taken before the administration could engage such a venture.
He pointed out that in countries such as Jamaica, where the public transportation service is provided by the Government, the service is highly subsidised, frightfully expensive on the budget, hence the need for studies to be conducted here to determine the feasibility of resuming the service.
Guyanese you are being prostituted by your politicians!
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