By Orville Williams
Prime Minister Gaston Browne has advised the nation that gas prices could be increased again imminently, to offset the rising costs associated with importing fuel.
“We’ve been advised that, come next week when the next shipment of petroleum products comes in, we’re going to see yet another increase in petroleum pricing.
“And the right thing to do to avoid the government having to dip into its scarce resources to subsidise the payment for the shipment is to pass on the prices to consumers,” Browne revealed over the weekend.
Gas prices increased on March 15, with motorists forking out $15.70 per gallon for gasoline – up from $12.50 – and $15.50 per gallon for diesel, up from $12.20.
Prices saw a nominal decrease last month. But the hikes have unsurprisingly drawn the ire of motorists across the country, who feel that they’re yet another burden on their pockets, having been affected in some way by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The government has previously acknowledged that the increased fuel costs for motorists is not an ideal situation, given the economy is still on the mend, but the PM insisted that it cannot continue to shoulder the burden.
“We can’t justify, at least when it comes to prices at the pump, subsidising the amount that people pay to put gas in their cars.
“In fact, what maybe we ought to do is to allow the pass-through to continue, allow individuals to conserve the amount of diesel and gasoline they utilise, while at the same time continue to subsidise transportation, to include our bus and taxi drivers,” Browne said.
No decision has yet been made on the matter, according to the PM, who said he will be having discussions with his fellow ministers to determine the way forward.
“I’ll be having a discussion next Wednesday with the Cabinet to determine how we deal with this, if we go the extra mile to subsidise the losses – which means that we’d have to put our hands into the government’s pockets to subsidise petroleum prices, in order to keep the price down – or if we just say to the people, look, we have to bite the bullet,” he said.
Residents, including the opposition political parties, have been calling on the government to repeal the increased fuel prices, to relieve some of the financial burden on many who are still struggling.