Focus/Spotlight

Fuel price hike: Severe blow to common man

By Yumiko Perera

 

The recent hike in fuel prices has been discussed at length, and a lot is being said on the matter. A significant number of people have had to face job losses due to the pandemic and travel restrictions have led to a considerable loss in income for many people.

Although the country is still far from returning to normalcy, the increase in fuel prices came as a major blow to the livelihoods of the common folk of the country.

With things not looking up for the people of the country as the economic rebound remains uncertain, The Sunday Morning reached out to several individuals to understand their take on the matter at hand.

 

Govt. needs to step down

Natlie Jackson, 26, IT recruiter

The Government is trying to clean up their mess in the worst way possible by increasing prices like this. It’s affecting the majority in the country and it’s becoming a very expensive Third World country to live in. The people don’t need this right now. The Government should step down and let someone more sensible clean up their mess.

Most people are out of income at this point due to the travel restrictions, and I don’t think the majority can afford the increased cost of living.

I think travel restrictions should be lifted and stringent measures should be put in place to make sure people would abide by the health regulations. That way, people would be able to earn a living; however, the authorities need to make sure the health guidelines are being strictly adhered to.

I also believe the authorities need to stop focusing on importing luxury vehicles for the MPs and maybe use that money to help the poor people out. They should take a walk in underprivileged areas and see how they are suffering, just as they usually do when it’s close to an election. They shouldn’t encourage a higher cost of living.

 

Government doing a good job

Joshua Bastian, 30, entrepreneur

The Government’s sudden decision to increase fuel prices was inevitable – the country is surviving amidst a pandemic and there are loans to pay.

While certain people may not be able to afford the increase in the cost of living as a result of an increase in fuel prices, as I said before, the Government has loans to pay and is trying to keep revenue within the country. I believe the Government is doing a good job so far, and people would have to cope with it. The Government also has given certain benefits, such as waiving off certain taxes where the previous Government had added up to the cost of living.

 

People burdened further

Anukshalla Rosairo, 27, hotelier

The Government’s sudden decision to increase fuel prices has put a lot of people in a tough spot. The pandemic had already impacted the livelihoods of many, and the increased price of fuel only adds to the woes of the public.

I believe the Government needs to take into account the suffering the people of the country are going through right now and at least introduce benefit schemes to provide some sort of relief at this point.

 

Priorities of rulers lie elsewhere

Rehan Fernando, 26, undergrad

I don’t know where the country is going at this rate. People are suffering, there are no vaccines, and the authorities seem to be focused on getting new vehicles for themselves when they have stopped imports for others.

The move to increase the fuel prices proves that the priorities of the rulers lie elsewhere and not with the people of the country. If the Government did indeed put its citizens first, then that would reflect in their actions, alas!

 

Corruption hinders development

Fernando, 20, undergrad

The Government should not have opted for this move, especially given the situation the country is facing at present, and I don’t think many Sri Lankans would be able to afford the increased cost of living as it comes with an increase in almost all commodity prices amidst a slow economy.

I don’t think our country has the capability of providing relief to the general public (although they do give “relief” to themselves or any other connected member). The only other solution, unfortunately, is to tax the rich and help the poor. In a perfect country, this would work. However, in a corrupt country such as ours, most rich individuals/companies have links to MPs or have paid large sums of money to individuals of such power and would be exempt from such burdens.

Assuming none of that happens, a higher tax rate, although burdensome, will help the less fortunate communities of our country, such as the farmers and fishermen. At the end of the day, the cost of living will only increase as the prices of food will increase due to shortages. Either pay taxes collectively or suffer individually.

The only thing that is stopping this country from developing is corruption and greed, and therefore no matter what the general public requests or suggests, it will be done so that one party will make a profit, if not, no action will take place.

 

No option but to put up with it

Jerome de Silva, 26, software engineer

I don’t think the Government should have opted for this move, especially at this juncture. However, I do understand why it had to be done. If oil prices in the global market have increased, it goes without saying that there would be a hike in prices in the local market as well.

While most Sri Lankans would be burdened by this further, unfortunately, there is no option but to put up with it. The Government could introduce benefit schemes as relief; however, we all know how effective the implementation of such schemes would be.

 

Gone from bad to worse

Shehani Fernando, 28, undergrad

The hike in fuel prices would lead to an increase in the prices of all commodities, and the sudden move came at a point in time where the country is still trying to recover from the pandemic. We are still in the middle of the third wave and there is still so much uncertainty, and many don’t have the luxury of a steady income or job security.

This move impacts various sectors, and unfortunately the poor would only be burdened more. Although it’s a mere Rs. 7, it could still mean so much to people who struggle to fend for themselves, and given the travel restrictions and the pandemic, things have only gone from bad to worse.

 

People’s struggles disregarded

Chrishan Pereira, 38, businessman

I strongly believe this wasn’t the right time for an increase in fuel prices; the people are already pressurised, some don’t have jobs. On top of that, the travel restrictions have taken away the livelihoods of so many. The pandemic has already brought along so much adversity to the people, and it’s unfortunate how the authorities seem to disregard the struggles of the people of the country.

Authorities seem to revel in luxury, whereas the common man continues to suffer. This is something that has been going on for ages, and unfortunately, I don’t see it changing for the better anytime either. The chances of this decision being reversed is slim, and I can only hope the people of this country will see better times.

 

Hard decision for Govt. to make

Shahane Perera, 23, banker

Although I don’t commend the move, it is what had to be done. The Government should now focus on giving concessions to the people of the country.

The economy is still recovering from the impact the pandemic has left behind, and I believe we haven’t seen the worst yet.

Truly, this is a no-win situation for all parties in question. The Government had a hard decision to make, and so they did.

 

Not a hasty decision

Shamal W., 31, businessman

The decision hadn’t been made in a haste; I believe this was something that had been pending for a while, although the people hadn’t braced themselves for it. Times are definitely rough, given the pandemic, so many people have lost their jobs and livelihoods, and it only seems to be getting worse.

I don’t think many people would be able to afford this as the cost of living has skyrocketed in recent times.