Today’s Editorial for May 31: Make additional duties fair

As we opined last week, residents
on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman had better start digging deep in their
pockets for any extra money to pay for increased prices at petrol pumps.

Under a proposal from Premier
McKeeva Bush in his budget speech to the country last week, he wants a 25-cent
increase in gas and diesel import duty.

Our brothers and sisters on Cayman
Brac have been spared this additional ‘tax’ because, as we said last week, they
are still recovering from Hurricane Paloma in 2008 and that Island’s economy –
which is made up mostly of civil servants – is hurting.

We have to argue that there are
many people on Grand Cayman who are still suffering from the plight of
Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 and more than a few people on the big island
are in an economic quandary. An increase in fuel charges will hurt them just as
much as anyone on Cayman Brac.

Consider those who drive to work
daily from North Side and East End. An increase in fuel prices is going make it
more expensive just to go to their jobs to put food on their tables and pay
their bills. We would find it hard to argue that anyone on Cayman Brac has to
commute as far to go to work as those in the Eastern Districts.

But the argument about petrol in
vehicles is only one side of the argument. What is an increase in fuel prices
going to do to the rest of the costs for goods and services?

Surely the price for fuel will go
up for our electricity provider CUC. Its licence agreement dictates that the
electricity giant won’t absorb  those
costs; it’ll pass them along to the consumer.

And will store owners sit passively
by and take on extra expense to run their air conditioning, lights, etc? No.
They too will pass along the costs to those consuming their wares.

We do appreciate the need for the
country to generate more money for its coffers.

But is it fair to single out only
two of our Islands to suffer? Too often we hear Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
complain that they aren’t treated like they are part of the Cayman Islands.
Grant them their wish if we do have to suffer added fuel duties.

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