(CNS): Opposition Leader Roy McTaggart says the Cayman Islands government should reduce fuel tariffs to zero, scrapping the 75-cent tax it adds to each gallon at the pump and the 25 cents it charges CUC, until the end of the year to help people cope with the soaring cost of living. Speaking at a Zoom press conference on Tuesday, the former finance minister admitted he had not calculated exactly how much it would cost the public purse. However, he said the CIG was “full of cash”, given rising fees elsewhere, so he could do it and still balance the books.
McTaggart said it would be a “bold move” that would affect everyone and that the PACT government was not yet doing enough to support people through the current inflation crisis. He noted that due to inflation and rising prices of imported goods, customs revenue was increasing in all areas, which came from people’s pockets. Therefore, he said, the government could return that money by scrapping all fuel taxes until the end of 2022.
Party leader and deputy Joey Hew said the summer would be tough for people and cutting the fuel tax was the easiest way to help everyone because it would have an impact directly across the economy.
In Parliament recently, after Prime Minister Wayne Panton’s response to McTaggart’s question about what the government planned to do in the face of the unprecedented level of inflation, the Leader of the Opposition accused the PACT administration of having ” failed “. He said his constituents thought PACT was too “distracted by infighting and watching their own backs to see what problems people are suffering from”.
McTaggart noted that since public finances were still in very good shape, it was possible to proceed with this duty reduction and other measures to reduce the negative effect that inflation has and should continue to have for some time. time.
Hew also noted that the government had drawn on the line of credit that the PPM administration had negotiated as a backup to navigate the country through the pandemic or any resulting crisis. He said the opposition did not blame the government for the cost of living crisis, but called on it to do much more to help people get out of it, given the government’s flexible financial position.
Both Hew and McTaggart agreed that the global circumstances were unusual and that the inflationary pressures were external and beyond the government’s power to tackle directly. But they said the administration could help people with more proactive measures like cutting fees, denying the Water Authority’s price hike request, continuing to freeze mandatory pension payments and keeping health insurance support for tourism workers.
McTaggart said the CIG did not need to increase donations or put money into people’s hands, but there were a number of options available to protect people from the worst impact of inflation. He has already written to the government with a number of suggestions, but he said the Prime Minister has not responded.
He said he and his PPM colleagues were always more than happy to discuss other options with the government and play a role in helping through the crisis.
The government has taken several measures to ease the pressure of inflation, including giving civil servants a bonus and cost-of-living allowance, providing free breakfast, lunch and snacks to all children attending public schools and reducing various government fees and taxes for seniors. It also plans to roll out a subsidy on the electricity bills of some 20,000 residences, which is expected to be introduced over the next week.