Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Golding hails Mottley for capping gas prices in Barbados

Published:Tuesday | August 16, 2022 | 7:19 AM
Opposition Leader Mark Golding (in blue Kangol cap), leader of the Opposition, marched with a copy of a draft ministerial order to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service on May 16, 2022. The Government has has opted to maintain the special tax on fuel but has announced a series of welfare initiatives worth over $7 billion to help vulnerable Jamaicans deal with the rising cost of living. -File photo

Jamaica's Opposition Leader Mark Golding has commended Barbados' decision to cap gas prices, as he continues to criticise the Holness administration's response to Jamaicans struggling with rising food and energy costs.  

Gasoline will cost BDS$4.48 (US$2.24) per litre, while diesel will be BDS$4.03 (US$2.01) until January 31, 2023.

“...If the prices fall below that cap, all of those reductions will be passed through to the consumer. If the prices go above that cap, the Government will hold the line and keep the cap in place," Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced Monday. 

Golding said the move will help citizens struggling with rising prices. 

"This is what cushioning the crisis looks like, as it regards the rapid hike in gas prices this year. The JA government's paltry “targetted” effort is simply inadequate," he tweeted Monday. 

For months, Golding's People's National Party has been pushing a cap on fuel prices in Jamaica at US$67.50, a suggestion rejected by the administration. 

The Opposition has also been calling for the removal of the special consumption tax of $7 per litre that was imposed on fuel in 2015 when it formed the government.

In May, Golding led a protest on the Ministry of Finance during which he delivered a draft ministerial order to Financial Secretary Darlene Morrison that called for a cap on the ad valorem special consumption tax on fuel. 

“We feel the gas price is a major factor in this overall inflation. And as you know, there are tremendous taxes included in fuel,” the opposition leader said.

Gasolene retailers have also urged the Government to reconsider the tax component of ex-refinery fuel.

“Our concern is that even corporate tax is lower than 45 per cent, and we are asking the ordinary man in the street to bear a tax of 45 per cent on gasolene,” Dianne Parram, president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association, told The Gleaner in February.

The Government has stood firm against the calls, pointing to the global dimensions of the crisis built on the COVID-19 pandemic and rising global inflation triggered significantly by the Ukraine-Russia war. 

Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has instead announced a series of welfare programmes worth more than $7 billion to help various groups including transport operators to cushion the effects. 

Some $3.5 billion of support was announced in March, which was followed up by almost $4 billion of programmes outlined in July. 

Among the initiatives is the provision of $25,000 in vouchers to operators of public passenger vehicles (PPV), including route taxi operators and contract carriage operators. The programme will cost the Government just under $600 million.

Additionally, the Government is to provide $200 million for short-term loans to PPV operators purchase tyres, batteries, and spare parts for public transport operations. This is to be available through Microcredit and Approved Financial Institutions, by way of the Development Bank of Jamaica.

The Government expects to collect over more than $92 billion in revenue from its special consumption tax this fiscal year.  

More than 71 million more people around the world were experiencing poverty as a result of soaring food and energy prices, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) estimated in July. 

“The cost of living impact is almost without precedent in a generation... and that is why it is so serious,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said at the launch of a report. 

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