Opposition leader won’t support petrol levy

North Side member also opposes it

George
Town MLA Kurt Tibbetts said Friday that he would not support the Cayman Islands
government’s newly proposed budget if a 25-cent increase in gas and diesel
import duty remained in it.

The
import duty increase would put the current levy on gas up from 50 cents per
gallon to 75 cents per gallon. Diesel import duty would go from 60 cents per
gallon to 85 cents per gallon.

The
duty increase is expected to take effect on 1 July, but would not apply to
Cayman Brac.

Premier
McKeeva Bush proposed the hike Tuesday as a way to raise an additional $10.3
million for government coffers.

Mr.
Tibbetts said the hike would lead not only to higher prices at the pump, but
also to higher electricity bills and possibly higher water bills as well.

“If
the increase on fuel remains, the good Lord up above would have to come and
tell me to support this budget, because I will not support that,” Mr. Tibbetts
told Legislative Assembly members late Friday morning.

Mr.
Tibbetts said he had not consulted with his opposition colleagues before making
that statement. The five opposition party members of the LA abstained on voting
from the current year’s budget when lawmakers took up the measure in October.

Mr.
Tibbetts said that abstention occurred mainly because opposition members didn’t
believe the government’s budget figures were realistic.

Independent MLA Ezzard Miller said he also could not support the increase in the petrol duty.

“If I was almost persuaded to support it…the second part that exempts Cayman Brac really gets my blood up,” Mr. Miller said.  

The
administration is expected to end this year with a $45 million operating
deficit – that means government spent more than it earned in the current fiscal
year. The current budget year will end on 30 June.

Mr.
Tibbetts said he recognised government’s need to bridge the financial gap for
the upcoming year – which will start on 1 July – but said the increase import
duty would simply drive the cost of living for Cayman Islands residents too
high.  

“There
has to be some other way to raise that money,” he said.  

Moreover,
Mr. Tibbetts noted that electricity bills – which are no longer receiving a $6
million subsidy from government – would rise even further with the petrol tax
since fuel is needed to generate electricity.

The
Caribbean Utilities Company is the largest single fuel consumer in the Cayman
Islands.

“It
is estimated that….will play out to a ten per cent increase in electricity
bills,” Mr. Tibbetts said, referring to the combined effect of the new import
levies and the removal of the CUC subsidy. “I only hope to God it is not worse
than that.”

Please
read the full story in Monday’s Caymanian Compass….

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Good call.
    Increases in the petrol levy will otherwise increase not only car operation costs but electricity costs which will then filter through to more expensive business costs.
    But what about reversing the current business costs that the government so keenly approved such as the permit fees so we can keep the financial services sector keen to stay in Cayman, increase job potential for Cayamnians and increase local population for all to benefit from?

  2. Good call.
    Increases in the petrol levy will otherwise increase not only car operation costs but electricy costs which will then filter through to more expensive business costs.
    But what about reversing the current business costs that the government so keenly approved such as the permit fees so we can keep the financial services sector keen to stay in Cayman, increase job potential for Cayamnians and increase local population for all to benefit from?

  3. We are surrounded by a world in financial chaos. Can’t we learn from others mistakes and drive a Ford because we can’t the bentley? Stop using the credit card if you can’t pay the monthly bill and you won’t have to take from others to pay for your fiscal irresponsibility.

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