JGRA wants freeze on fuel tax increase - Group calls for meeting with finance minister
With the increased tax on fuel to be reflected at the pumps today, acting president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association (JGRA), Gregory Chung, is calling for a freeze on the new tax measure, pending the outcome of formal discussions between Finance and Public Service Minister Audley Shaw and stakeholders.
The special consumption tax (SCT) on fuel, which was announced last week, will see increases ranging from $0.43 to $7.36 per litre and is geared towards raising $7.5 billion in revenue for the Government for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
In speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Chung expressed that instead of growing the economy, the new tax would have direct adverse effects on gas retailers and motorists and indirect impact on non-motorists through the distribution chain, transportation costs, and electricity bills.
SECOND IN A YEAR
"Why implement such an onerous tax measure and not have any prior discussions with the people most affected by it? We're saying, have a freeze on it and let us discuss it, as we're seeing a lot of pitfalls and we would like to have it significantly reduced. We are very much aware that the Government needs to raise the taxes to make up for the shortfall in the $1.5-million tax break. However, increasing fare prices is very dangerous, because it has inflationary effects and it affects everyone - motorists and non-motorists, persons who buy products at the supermarket, and those who take public transportation," he said.
In emphasising that this fuel increase was the second one within a year, coupled with a 20 per cent increase on motor vehicle licences and allied fees that are also to be implemented under the new tax measure, head of the National Council of Taxi Associations, Dion Chance, described the move as being "too much".
"We would like a meeting at the earliest possible date to sit down and negotiate. We are requesting a 50 per cent reduction on the fuel. The consensus is that it is excessive, and if taxi operators don't get a fare increase or some leverage, some of them will be facing bankruptcy. Gas price fluctuates, and this fee increase will trigger a series of increases, as everything moves with gasolene," said Chance.