More burdens for the working people as fuel prices on the rise – FITUG

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Dear Editor,

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) from press reports and our own observations has recognized, in recent times, the significant increase in the cost of fuel. We saw as recent as May 28, 2018, the state-owned Guyana Oil Company Limited (Guyoil) retailing gasoline for $230 per litre.

Interestingly, May 20, 2018, Guyana Times had reported that Guyoil, at the time it compiled its report, was retailing gas for $220 per litre. Thus, in the space of days, the price jumped by $10 per litre, that is a significant hike given the shortness of the period. Moreover, we are aware that, similarly, increases have been recorded in the prices of kerosene and cooking gas.

The Federation is aware that the increased fuel prices have their origins in the rising price of oil globally. While they may not be a great deal we can do about that fact, at the same time, the FITUG also recognizes that this is not by any means a new phenomenon. We recall in the past that oil prices, in some instances, exceeded the current international prices but policies were embraced which sought to cushion the local impact. Here, we refer to the reduction of the excise tax which, in effect, helped to soften, and in some cases nullified, the increased prices due to increases at the global level and which was a welcome effort that gave our people room to breathe.

The Federation, at this time, must express its strong dismay that, as far as we are aware, no attempt has been made to embrace such a policy. From our perspective, there is hardly any credible justification that can be advanced for not moving in that direction.

The fact that such moves, long overdue in our view, are not in train, says a lot. We are aware of a view that the Government’s inaction, or reluctance as it were, has to do with its need to have monies available to satisfy its insatiable spending. That spending, as we well know, has not always been in the interest of our people.

Here, for instance, the FITUG cannot fail to recall the seldom used Durban Park; or the ‘greening’ of several Government offices and buildings; or the massive structure that now envelopes the Ministry of the Presidency; or travel to exotic locales in all corners of the world; or the rental of a bottom-house drug bond, among other things which cannot be held up or justified as wise spending.

The reduction of the taxes on fuel, undoubtedly, will bring some reprieve to our already overburdened working people. In recent times, our workers and their families have had to contend with new taxes, increases in extant taxes, higher cost of food, apart from increases in essential and necessary items.

The FITUG contends that no person would be spared as the increased costs of fuel will be passed on to the consumer in one way or another. Apart from the increased living costs, the higher prices of fuel will also affect our business sector which, by itself, is facing difficult and hard times. Such a situation, undoubtedly, could have a spill off effect on employment and make a bad situation even worse.

The FITUG, at this time, calls on the Government to stop turning a blind eye to what is taking place and to proactively act in the interest of our people who are already hard-pressed at this time.        

May 30, 2018

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