Fiji Labour Party today criticized the government for approving the unwarranted and untimely hike in bus fares. The approval for hike by the Cabinet only shows their short-sightedness and ignorance of the plight of ordinary people, said assistant secretary general Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi.
The government approval of the increase is totally opposite what the SDL had promised in its 2001 election manifesto, i.e. not to increase bus fares. When will they deliver their promises of subsidizing bus fares for the school children, and providing free transport for senior citizens and the disabled, as stated in their manifesto? asked Mr Vayeshnoi.
Government is indeed insensitive about the ever-increasing unemployment, poverty and other social concerns that beset this nation today. The overall cost of living has increased considerably in the last 3 years and the fare hike will just be an extra burden on the people.
With 60% of our people living in poverty and unemployment rate being 30%, a 5% increase is simply snatching bread and butter from the mouths of the poor. Such insensitive policies of the SDL government will only push more people into poverty and lead to more social problems.
While the public is still reeling from the adverse effects of increase in VAT by 25%, the SDL government has struck another blow at the poor, said Mr Vayeshnoi.
In the 2003 budget a number of concessions were given to the bus companies such as: –
· 14 cents per litre rebate on ADO fuel
· duty rates for engines were reduced by 10%
· rebate on purchase of tyres
With the preferential treatment meted out to the bus companies, this increase is simply unjustified.
Mr Vayeshnoi challenged the government to remain true to its promises made in the 2001 general election manifesto and if they cannot deliver then they must bow out.
Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi
Assistant Secretary General