FIJI MUST CUT TARIFF ON FUEL IMPORTS

Editorial

Fiji Times

SUVA, Fiji (Aug. 5, 2008) - The interim administration must take immediate and drastic action to arrest the rising fuel prices. This is no time for finger pointing or playing the blame game.

The people of this nation continue to suffer as costs linked to fuel prices move ever upwards. If the current trend is allowed to continue, food prices will soon follow the path which the cost of fuel has taken.

Manufacturing costs will rise and employers will be forced to look critically at the number of employees they keep on the payroll. There can be no question that the price of fuel will have a direct impact on costs across the country.

Taxi and bus operators will soon begin to clamor yet again for an increase in fares. They will be followed in turn by the airlines and shipping companies.

Transport costs are already high with some students unable to attend class because their parents cannot afford the fares. And no matter what the interim administration or any past government says, the fact is that the issue must be addressed here and now.

We cannot continue to pass off the fuel price increase as unavoidable because of the global trend. What must be addressed is what we can do as a country and as individuals to limit the use of fossil fuels.

One way in which to tackle fuel prices is to approach alternative energy and put in place measures which will eventually reduce our reliance on petrol and gas. While this is a noble and environmentally-friendly move, the impact of such actions will take years to realize. This does not mean that we should not embrace alternative sources of energy and immediately begin work in this area.

The interim administration can cut the cost of fuel tomorrow if it wishes by slashing the duties it places on this commodity. A large portion of the cost of fuel flows directly into the State coffers to pay for salaries of an oversized and inefficient Civil Service.

It also has the power to introduce rebates for companies which take on energy-saving projects. This administration has heaped the blame on previous governments for failing to address the plight of the people.

Now it is time to show whether our current leaders can do any better than those who have been removed. Remove the tariffs on fuel, give the people immediate relief.

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