Opposition Leader, Hon. Matthew Wale says the government’s decision to exclude bus and taxi service operators from the Economic Stimulus Package is unfair and lacks any justification under current circumstances.
The statement follows the announcement made by the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and Chairman of the ESP Committee on Sunday saying, the ESP is only available to transport businesses that are connected to the tourism sector and not the public bus and taxi service providers.
“There is no doubt that all types of businesses in the private sector are affected by the impact of Covid-19 and so classify them does not make sense. What is the basis for drawing the line between which ones should be entitled and which ones should not?”
“Whether it is tourists or the travelling public at large, the focus should be on the operator’s ability to continue providing the service with little constraint in these trying times. Isn’t this what the ESP is supposed to do?”
“It is important that social distancing measures are applied in public places and all modes of public transport. However, if imposition of such measures is going to come at a cost to be borne by the operators, it may be counter-product in the end.”
“From a business stand point, applying social distancing measures in public transport will certainly lead to reduction in travelling passengers at any given time. This in turn can lead to drops in income which may force operators to break the law to stay afloat, or quit.”
The transport sector in general is a high risk area for spread of Covid-19 and so any efforts to make it safe must be applied across the board.”
“So I call on the government to reconsider the decision and to allow bus and taxi operators to apply for consideration.”