Fiji PM to look into fare increase: Chand
www.fijilive.com - 07/04/2009
Leading Fiji bus operator Dewan Chand said interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, who today authorised the release of subsidies due to the industry since last year, also promised he would look into a request for 20 percent increase in bus fares.“The prime minister promised today he would look into the matter,” said Chand. He said Bainimarama asked to meet him today after Chand’s warning in the media yesterday that bus operators including his own company would close down if the interim government did not immediately provide them with subsidies.Chand said the subsidies, which for his company alone came to $300,000 for October to December 2008, would solve a lot of problems.“It will solve a lot of problems or my company. It will help our cash flow, we can get our buses repaired and buy spare parts,” he said.A statement from Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority chief executive Jitoko Tikolevu said that in July 2008, the interim government had agreed to provide bus operators a revenue-based direct subsidy of 21.9 percent to be administered by FIRCA.“The subsidy was granted in view of the escalation of global fuel prices at that time. Government has already made payments of up to $2.2million to the bus operators for the months of July to September, 2008,” said Tikolevu.The interim government agreed to pay all outstanding subsidies up to December 31, 2008. Chand said the subsidy was only effective until December since fuel prices had dropped in January.He said while the industry would not request further subsidies, they had asked for a 20 percent increase in fares.Chand said the request, lodged last year, was still with the Land Transport Authority and Bainimarama today promised he would look into the matter.