By Theresa Goodwin
The Antigua and Barbuda Bus Association will be putting a proposal to Cabinet ministers today aimed at easing the rollout of the 25 percent discount on gasoline and diesel after two previous methods failed.
The fuel subsidy for registered transportation operators and fishermen went into effect in mid-March to provide relief for both drivers and commuters, who would otherwise have to bear the increased costs after the March 15 price hike.
The association’s president, Keithroy Black, said that following the announcement by the government, the Transport Board initially allowed public transport drivers to purchase 10 gallons of fuel per day at a rate of $12 per gallon.
He said after a period of time it was recognised that this format was not working for drivers or the owners of the various service stations.
“We wrote to the Transport Board and asked them to instead place the amount on a voucher and we started to get some pushback on that. There was a meeting held at the Transport Board with members of the association and the chair of the transportation union.
“We also had a meeting with the Attorney General and the Minister of Transport and we were invited to another meeting today with the Cabinet,” Black said.
The drivers are now planning to put forward another proposal to the Cabinet which would involve applying the 25 percent discount directly when each driver goes to the pump.
“We are asking for an ID card to be created to include the name of the bus driver and the bus number. It will not limit them when they go to the pumps, but they will have to present that ID card,” he said.
In order to benefit, each driver will have to be in full operation with a bus that is up and running.
Taxi drivers have also encountered difficulties in the initial stages of the subsidy rollout.
President of the United Taxi Company Ian Joseph said that government was offering a 25 percent reduction on 15 gallons of gas per week. This offer was rejected by the drivers who met subsequently with transport officials and agreed to a counter proposal for the discount to be applied to 40 gallons of petrol per week.
Joseph, however, said some members are of the view that the 25 percent discount should be implemented across the board instead of being limited to a specific quantity of fuel per week.