The National Federation Party says the ultimatum by Land Transport Authority to road haulage companies in the country to clear their backlog of $5 million worth of fines for overloading will put great financial pressure on the companies and severely impact their operations.
NFP President Pio Tikoduadua says the $5 million was accumulated through a fine of $1000.00 per tonne in excess of the stipulated weight of a vehicle.
“LTAs hostile fine collection approaches that are targeting small and medium owned enterprises is burdening them with unrealistic timelines”.
“While we appreciate that the Land Transport Authority is mandated by law to ensure safe and orderly travel on our national roads, the NFP is inundated with complaints from SMEs in the private sector who they feel are being unjustly shackled with undue pressure to cough up these huge fines”.
“One such example is the Fiji Road Haulage Association (RHA), whose members are the lifeblood of mobility of goods in our economy. The RHA has been liaising on behalf of its members to secure an amnesty period for the payment of $5M fines from the deadline of to 15 January 2018”.
“While NFP acknowledges that haulage takes a toll on the wear and tear on the roads, and that the RHA must pay its fair share of the use of the roads, there must surely be a more consultative way forward”.
“Furthermore, where overloading is concerned, surely the involvement of the Fiji Roads Authority makes sense”.
“More concerning is that RHA members who have fines pending will suffer to pay a penalty of another 50% if they do not pay by 15 January 2018. How is this unilateral approach a fair way to regulate?”
“RHA members are being strong-armed into paying these fines “under protest” before the 15 January 2018 deadline, while they consider legal action”.
“In addition to the LTA levying a 50% interest rate on top of unpaid fines by the due date, the LTA’s revised laws also empower them to issue departure stoppage or they are black-listed from leaving the country”.
“The heavy hand of regulatory capture is now running roughshod on the private sector and serious questions now arise as to how the economy can expect to sustain over-regulation such as this”.