Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn. (FP)

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, has expressed the view that abolishing the fuel tax at this time would severely compromise Government’s ability to finance the COVID-19 response, and negatively impact the various social protection measures put in place to help Barbadians survive these difficult times.

Mr. Straughn made the comments today, in response to suggestions from some Barbadians that the fuel tax should be eliminated because of the recent increases in petrol prices.

The Minister said: “As I speak to you, international fuel prices have been rising for well over a year, like almost every other commodity price in the midst of the global pandemic. Therefore, the idea of abolishing the fuel tax or any other tax would severely compromise our ability to finance the COVID-19 response, as well as provide the range of social protection measures we have already implemented, such as the Adopt Our Families Programme, which has helped over 3,000 families across this country survive over this last year.

“So, I understand why fuel prices are high and how motorists may feel at the pump. But the call for its abolition is perhaps shortsighted and the proposed protest to only fill up with one litre at a time will make sense only to those who have time and money to waste driving to and from gas stations.  

“The truth is, it would likely end up costing more to drive back and forth to fill up one litre at a time.”

The Minister reminded Barbadians that in the past, there was a high level of non-compliance to the payment of road taxes. Therefore, he stated, road tax was abolished and the fuel tax implemented.

“Whilst this obviously increased the cost of fuel at the pump, it allowed average Barbadians an easier way of paying the once lumpy road tax. The measure was designed to be revenue neutral and therefore allows Government to focus on delivery of service.

“As many motorists and pedestrians can see, the Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources has been busy with the repair of many roads across the country. The truth is, I wish we could repair all of the roads at the same time, but that is simply not possible, given the scale of neglect from the last administration,” Mr. Straughn said.

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