11 Feb 2009

Missed Fiji bus fare drop regretted

1:44 pm on 11 February 2009

Fiji's Consumer Council has criticised the interim government for stopping a 10-percent drop in bus fares.

On Monday, many bus users were expecting the fare drop which had been approved by the Minister of Transport, but the interim Prime Minister intervened.

A Council spokesperson, Praneeta Singh, says the government has a social responsibility to help consumers, who are suffering after the recent flooding and amid tough economic times.

She says 40 percent of Fiji's people live below the poverty line and rely heavily on buses.

Ms Singh says even though a 21.9 percent government fuel subsidy was scrapped last month, the bus operators would still have been able to survive.

The fact that taxis have dropped their fares already should be justification enough, she says, for bus operators to do the same.

"The bus industry, they always play the fuel card to seek an increase or to get a subsidy or concession from the government. Now that the fuel prices have decreased, I mean its only justified that consumers now pay the same fuel price. Fuel has decreased seven times since August 6th last year and it is only justified that bus fares come down as well. It is very sad, very disappointing that the government has made the decision that it has."

Fiji Consumer Council's Praneeta Singh