PUBLIC transport providers in Honiara are planning to stage a peaceful protest tomorrow.
This is in response to the newly imposed tax increase by the Inland Revenue Division (IRD) within Ministry of Finance & treasury on all taxis and buses operating in the country.
Members of the transport association in Honiara on Tuesday met to discuss the proposed peaceful protest scheduled for this Thursday.
During their meeting on Tuesday all the bus and taxi owners expressed their disappointment over the recent changes claiming the newly imposed tax increase is too much for them given the high cost of operating a transport service in the country.
“The amount of $7,000 for a single taxi per year to pay compared to what most of us afford for our livelihood is far too much,” spokesperson Leonard Ofa said.
Furthermore, Mr Ofa said there was no wider consultation leading up to that tax increase.
“We are not happy because there was no any wider consultation being held to ensure the public is aware of the changes and reasons behind them.
“Now we are affected especially consumers in Honiara and even we believe the entire country as well for that matter,” he added.
Mr Ofa said as part of the business operators in the country, they believe they have the right to express their concerns as it matters their livelihood.
The association come to know about increase after the Parliamentarians have agreed to impose the changes seeing the economy output is very low.
“We have our rights and we want them not to deprive them for the sake of imposing such increase just for the purpose of meeting the budget,” he said.
Mr Ofa said most of them are not only struggling to earn profits but for their daily earnings to support their families.
“Our leaders have neglected us because they know transport services is one of the few businesses that locals are engaged in whilst others have already occupied by foreigners,” he said.
Mr Ofa added they will meet again today in preparation for the proposed protest march tomorrow.
“We proposed to stop work on Thursday (tomorrow) so that we will go down to the Inland Revenue department to voice our concerns.
“But we have to first inform the Police traffic and the Honiara City Council to be aware of our plans,” he added.
Mr Ofa said they are not fighting for the buses and taxis alone but for everyone who will also affected by the increase of tax.
Attempt to get comments from the IRD on Tuesday was unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, the proposed protest is likely to affect the public transport services in the city.
The protest means no taxis and buses will be working on our roads.
By IAN MCDONALD