By Makeida Antonio
Residents will face higher fuel prices at petrol pumps across the country from today.
The price per gallon for petrol will now move from EC$15.15 to EC$17.50, quite a jump.
The news was confirmed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne on local radio over the weekend, despite no hint of a change in fuel prices during last week’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
There will be no increase in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas or cooking gas.
While the nation’s leader did not elaborate on all the factors influencing the decision, he spoke to the impact that the Russia-Ukraine war is having globally.
“We have to do whatever we can to keep the pressure on Russia to bring an end to this war, because people globally are suffering. There’s been an escalation in fuel prices, food prices and the irony about these issues are that they are exportable. It is the poorest people who ultimately feel the most significant impact, and that is precisely that is happening in the Caribbean today,” Browne said.
On Friday, Browne called for the US to drop sanctions against Venezuela at the Summit of the Americas held in the United States last week and he hoped that it will help the Caribbean.
Browne further outlined the possibilities if sanctions on Venezuelan oil were to be removed by the United States.
“We expect some consistency from the US, and we will continue to push for them to lift the sanctions on Venezuelan oil. If they do that, Trinidad and Tobago will be able to access natural gas from Venezuela, process natural gas and be able to make fertilizers as well,” he added.
However, United Progressive Party (UPP) leader Harold Lovell disagreed in the way the information about the hike, which could negatively affect thousands of citizens, was disseminated.
“In our view, this is totally unacceptable, and it is a clear admission of failure on the part of this administration. In fact, it seems to me as though they have surrendered. It is impossible to imagine that an administration can put a forty percent hike in gasoline in such a casual, insensitive and crass manner,” Lovell told Observer yesterday.
Lovell also leveled his critique against the government with regards to its fiscal management.
“We are now reaping the sour fruit of bad spending, wastage and bad policies. No administration – V.C. Bird, Lester Bird, Baldwin Spencer, no administration has collected more money than this administration. No administration has collected more in taxes, on gasoline and diesel.
“When the prices were low, they did not pass on any of that benefit to the people, but at the first sign of a hike they have increased to a point that is unconscionable. How are people to live? How are people to adjust? This is something that, in my view, the government has just struck another nail in its own coffin.”
Observer canvased the streets to get reaction from residents who will be affected by the change in gas and diesel.
One man shared his concerns about the effect the gas hike will have on the economy.
“It’s not going to be good for the economy, because if they’re going to raise it a lot of people who are feeling it now are going to cry. It’s going to push up the economy so high that many people will be laid off. That’s what happened to Jamaica and Guyana, the inflation is going to get out of hand.”
Another man questioned the government’s position on helping residents recover from the impact of Covid.
“It is really tough in these times when we are trying to catch ourselves from the Covid. You already know during Covid that we are the only country in the world that didn’t get any stimulus. Every other country saw it fit to give their people something, and right now, as soon as oil prices rise up, they rise [it] up, and I thought they said that they were supposed to have oil in storage, but [we] don’t really know how it goes.”