By Shermain Bique-Charles
Barbuda’s MP Trevor Walker believes that the government moved too hastily to increase the prices of petroleum products.
Prices at the pumps increased on Tuesday with motorists now paying EC$15.70 per gallon for gasoline, up from EC$12.50, and EC$15.50 per gallon for diesel, up from EC$12.20.
But Walker said with oil prices seeing a dip on the world market in recent days, the government may have to re-adjust the prices again.
“I would have held the increase for a while, because what’s happening now, oil prices are falling,” he said.
Earlier this week, Brent crude, the global benchmark, dropped 7.4 percent to US$99.91 a barrel, its lowest price since late February, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, the US benchmark, fell 6.4 percent to US$96.44 a barrel.
However, yesterday they jumped again after three straight days of losses. WTI climbed to just above $103 a barrel, while Brent crude rose to $107 a barrel.
“You see the trajectory; you see what’s happening. I thought what the government did was wrong. I think they could have held a little bit, hold the situation. Even if they did an increase, it should have been a smaller account,” Walker said, speaking ahead of Thursday’s oil price rise.
He claimed the government did not consider the variables before increasing the local fuel price.
“I think the government is cruel. I think they just did this to Antigua and Barbuda without looking at the variables … government is about planning. It is not about kneejerk reactions,” MP Walker explained.
The opposition United Progressive Party and residents alike have condemned the recent move but Prime Minister Gaston Browne has sought to justify it.
He said in Parliament that, almost on a weekly or bi-monthly basis, there are new supplies of petroleum products and a new shipment came in at a new price. Browne said these prices had to be passed onto the consumers.
Meanwhile, Cabinet was assured that the current prices at the pump are to be reviewed in 30 days, and the amount which the government collects in Consumption Tax may be lowered at that time.