Finance Minister Colm Imbert. – File
With Finance Minister Colm Imbert announcing yet another increase in the price of fuel, one maxi taxi association is calling for the Finance Ministry to sit down with stakeholders and micro-business owners to discuss modernising systems.
In the 2023 budget presentation on Monday, Imbert said the price of diesel was to be increased by 50 cents, going to $4.41 from $3.91 per litre.
Chaguanas Maxi Taxi Association President Aaron Silcott said no measures had been introduced for micro-business owners, with the majority of measures in the budget targeted to small and medium businesses.
“The Finance Ministry should have had a stakeholder meeting with the maxi-taxi operators to see what collaboration could have been done to bring modernisation to plant and machinery which would improve the quality of service and make the service more efficient for customers and business owners.
“As a maxi operator I would have liked to see a low-interest special arrangement with a one-1.5-year moratorium on loans, where I, as a maxi-taxi operator, could upgrade from my diesel vehicle to a more fuel,efficient vehicle like a CNG vehicle.
“I didn’t hear anything in the budget about micro-businesses, but I hope that in post(-budget) discussions that is something the minister would consider, as that would help to mitigate the increased cost.”
Silcott said he currently works 12-16 hours a day to compensate for the last increase in fuel. He said a maxi taxi tank held anywhere from 50 to 80 litres, which meant operators could now be paying upward of $220 to fill their tanks. He said a discussion with the ministry would raise their morale.
He said while the association’s constitution said the rates would not be increased for another three years after a 2022 increase, this policy might have to be reconsidered if fuel prices kept going up.
Currently passengers pay $5 for a short drop, $13 from Chaguanas to San Fernando, $10 from Chaguanas to Curepe, $9 from Chaguanas to Port of Spain, and $13 from San Fernando to Port of Spain.