Mon | Mar 25, 2019

JUTC projects $9b in losses

Published:Friday | February 15, 2019 | 12:15 AM

The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), the beleaguered state-owned bus company, has projected that it will rack up operating losses of just over $9 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

The losses are the result of a $1.5-billion increase in the company’s operating expenses, the 2019-2020 Jamaica Public Bodies Estimate of Revenues and Expenditures has revealed.

For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the JUTC had audited operating losses of $7.2 billion, and according to the company’s estimates, that figure will balloon to $8.1 billion at the end of the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31.

The continued haemorrhaging at the state-owned bus company comes despite the fact that the Government has pumped nearly $9 billion – $3.9 billion in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and $4.9 billion in the current fiscal year – into its operations.

It is projected that the JUTC will receive $5.1 billion in government subvention this fiscal year.

However, Mikael Phillips, opposition spokesman on transport, believes that the losses at the JUTC will soar beyond the $9 billion projected for the coming fiscal year and insists that a fare increase should not be among the measures to improve the company’s balance sheet.

“Before the Government even considers a fare increase, we need to see a national transportation plan. Before you increase, you have to bring some order to the system, you have to see what are the shortfalls you are having out there,” Phillips told The Gleaner yesterday.

Transport Minister Robert Montague could not be reached for a comment up to late yesterday.

According to the Public Bodies Estimates, the JUTC has projected that it will collect $4.4 billion in fares over the upcoming fiscal year, a near 10 per cent increase when compared with this fiscal year.

However, the company said projected increases in fuel and staff costs, as well as from repairs and maintenance of its fleet of buses, have pushed operating expenses to $10.3 billion, up from last year’s estimated figure of $8.8 billion.