Protests won't fly with country folk
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The opposition leader's promise to take his protest, aimed at having the fare increase at the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) rolled back, to other areas of Jamaica shows not only an urban bias, but a Kingston bias.
The beneficiaries of the service provided by the JUTC reside almost exclusively in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR), which includes Portmore. This is the region of the country with the highest average level of wealth.
Rolling back the fare increase for the JUTC would have to be met by a higher subsidy to the bus company. This higher subsidy would have to be paid for either by higher taxes or lower public services in other areas. The Government could raise taxes immediately to be able to afford the higher subsidy, or it could delay the tax increase by accumulating more debt, but higher taxes will at some time be required.
The call for increased efficiency can find no objection, but all the efficiency gains in the world will not drive the cost of providing the service to zero, nor remove the need for periodical adjustments in fares.
The Jamaica Labour Party will be asking people outside of the KMTR to demonstrate for an increase in the taxes they pay or a reduction in government services which they now receive, so that the relatively more wealthy Jamaicans living in the KMTR can receive higher subsidies and hence lower bus fares. This does not seem to serve the interest of the people living outside of the KMTR, unless the demonstration has little or nothing to do with bus fares.
Lecturer of Economics, UWI