Berbice Bridge tolls should be subsidised

Dear Editor,

I am emphasizing the call by the AFC for the government to subsidise those who cross the Berbice River Bridge.

It’s a fact that the Demerara Bridge is subsidized to the tune of between $300 million and $500 million annually. During the debate on the 2013 Budget, Mr Ramjattan stated , “The Demerara Harbour Bridge is another state-run business…Between 2011-13, the government diverted $1,120 million to maintain the bridge, of which $300 million will be spent this year… In the interest of justice, government should at least allocate $150 million in subsidy for Berbice Bridge tolls.”

President Ramotar refused, I guess either because he was ill informed when he said that the bridge is privately owned or he was trying to fool the people of this country.  Thanks to the consistent inputs from the Alliance for Change the people of Guyana are so much better informed as to how their money is being spent.  An examination of the shareholdings of the company shows that the government through NICIL and the NIS owns about seventy five per cent of the company, and according to law “any company in which not less than fifty-one per cent of the paid up share capital is held by the Government and includes a company which is a subsidiary of a Government company,” is a government company.

So the President should relieve the people of Guyana, especially the Berbicians, of the very high tolls that they have to pay to cross this bridge owned by the people.

After all goat ain’t bite we (I am a born Berbician). The PPP like they tek we fo granted but de gon larn sense fo dey cant fool all awe all de time.

Also please note that the government was stripped of voting rights and waived dividends owing it to the tune of $104.5 million in 2010. Dividends were also waived in 2008 and 2009. This is an annual waiver. During the life of the Bridge Concession the waiver would be worth more than $2 billion.

We are giving away money to the wrong people, but they will not reduce or subsidize the toll for us. No reduction in tolls, no vote. Berbicians must stand up against this lawless and uncaring government.

We know what the response will be. They will say look at the conditions that existed when Burnham was there. And that was 27 years ago. And at the end of this five years in power dey gon tell u look at what it was like under Burnham 30 years ago.

Yours faithfully,
Rajendra Bisessar

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