Toshaos complain about high cost to travel to the hinterland
Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill on Monday met with members of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) where several issues were raised, including the high cost to travel to the hinterland, although Value Added Tax (VAT) was removed on travel to interior locations, by the government.
Minister Edghill was told that most carriers would bill a traveller based on their weight instead of using a standardised ticket system. On the other hand, some carriers have been demanding exorbitant prices for tickets, although VAT was removed.
Minister Edghill said he believes that enforcement of the removal of VAT was meant to see a reduction in ticket prices and this must be accomplished. As a consequence, letters will be sent to carriers who are yet to remove VAT on hinterland travel.
Meanwhile, Minister Edghill said he is aware of the importance of hinterland airstrips which is why they are to undergo repairs.
“We know that airstrips are a big issue and we know of the difficulties,” he said.
In this regard, the minister committed to continuing the engagement for the completion of the Eteringbang Airstrip in Region Seven, with community involvement. On another note, Minister Edghill told the toshaos that the intent is for contracts to be issued for villagers to conduct maintenance works on hinterland airstrips.
Minister Edghill pointed to the importance of accountability at the village level since more funds will be pumped into interior communities. He urged the toshaos to “do everything possible to get the village economy booming”.
A few other issues raised during the meeting was a permanent building for the Toshao Council and a possible increase of the ceiling for hinterland projects from $5 million.
Minister Edghill advised the council to officially document their request and share with the Ministry of Finance. With regards to the building, the council was told that progress is being made and representation will be made to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to have funds directed to this project in Budget 2021.
In attendance of the meeting were Vice Chairman of the NTC, Paul Pierre; NTC Executive Director, Jude Da Silva; Programme Coordinator, Nandanie Jerry; Assistant Secretary/ Treasurer, Loretta Fiedtkou; NTC Executive Members, Carl Peneux; Ralph Hendrick; Colin Adrian; Beverly Clenkian; Mario Hasting; Howard Cornelius and NTC members, Edward McGarrel and Sharmain Rambojie. (Modified press release from Ministry of Public Works)