Tobago, Grande Chambers: Rise in cost of fuel will have knock-on effect
Business chambers continue to express concerns about the negative impact the recent rise in fuel prices will have on businesses and the country in general.
Chairman of the Tobago Business Chamber Martin George in a statement said coming out of the pandemic and with businesses now reopening, fuel price increases could not come at the worst time.
“The Chamber fully understands the need of the Government to balance its budgetary allocations. It is unfortunate that coming out of the pandemic, it does not appear to be the best thought out option, given the fact that we have now emerged from all the restrictions. Businesses are now trying to get themselves back on their feet.”
He said once the cost of fuel goes up then everyone is affected by the “knock-on” effect.
“We would have hoped that the Government would have probably tried to make an announcement, say from January 1, 2023, this price increase will take effect so people would have the time to adjust to it. They would have some time to make preparations for it. Businesses would have some months to get back their sales and customers. Rather than being hit with this after we have had increases in the price of bread, increases in the price of flour. The citizenry is reeling from aftershock and aftershock.”
George also called on the Government to take more “creative” solutions to try to manage the economy rather than raise taxes and prices to increase revenue and balance the budget.
‘It will impede an already challenging business environment’
The Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce in its statement said the fuel price increase comes at a time of “economic instability.”
“The increase in gas prices will have a domino effect on almost every sector of commerce. Over the past two-and-a-half years, SMEs have endured extreme financial hardship which the Government has recognised via the provision of relief measures. Notwithstanding this, many of the relief measures, though welcomed, are limited and temporary in scope in attempting to aid SMEs to maintain their survivability. SMEs are vulnerable and elastic to changes in the economic environment and therefore, the impact on the increase in gas prices does nothing more than impede an already challenging business environment.”
The Chamber added that given the geographic location of many businesses in the East and the dependency on outer regional supplies, the increase in fuel prices and the knock-on effect on goods and services becomes a real problem. Ultimately, “SMEs can only absorb increasing costs for a finite period,” the Chamber noted.
By: Raphael John all