Friday, March 1, 2024
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Don’t use us as a political football: FBOA

The bus industry continues to be used as a political football, says Fiji Bus Operators Association (FBOA) President Richard Lal.

While expressing his deep concern at the recent steep increase in fuel costs and the failure of the bus fare regulator to adjust fares to keep up with rising operational costs, Lal said with the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) refusing to fairly consider bus operators well-reasoned application for a fare adjustment, it is urgent that the Government intervenes.

He said this will allow the operators find an amicable resolution to meeting their costs, while also balancing this with the interests of the travelling public.

 “The price of diesel increased from 1 October by 32 cents per litre, drastically impacting bus operations across the country.”

“This comes on the back of the refusal by the FCCC to adjust fares in August to account for the general increase in costs associated with operating bus services.”

“Despite an earlier agreement by FCCC to correct a VAT adjustment error in bus fares that has persisted since 2016, in late July the regulator suddenly changed its position days later to say there would be no adjustment for this error,” Lal said.

“To compound this, at the same time the FCCC also declined an application for a general fare adjustment that had been discussed between bus operators and the commission barely four days before.”

He said the recent fuel price increase alone has added tens of thousands of dollars a month to the operating costs of even small operators, while fares have been frozen at rates that are based on financial statements from more than three years ago.

“The last fare adjustment granted by FCCC in 2022 was based on outdated 2020 bus operators’ financial accounts. Since then, costs have continued to increase.”

“It is unreasonable and unfair to expect bus operators to continue to bear costs without support or without being able to pass them on to consumers like almost every other industry.”

“Bus operators are forever playing catch-up with fares and FCCC has not been reasonable in dealing with operators’ applications.”

“In 2016, when VAT was reduced from 15% to 9%, bus fares were wrongly reduced despite fares being already zero rated.”

“With the increase in VAT back to 15% in the government’s 2023–2024 budget, it was expected that the long-overdue correction would have been made by FCCC. This did not happen, further eroding bus operators’ ability to cover their costs.”

Lal is calling for urgent consultations with the FCCC to be able to reach an amicable outcome that is beneficial for operators and the travelling public.

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports |


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