Govt won’t raise gas margin for retailers

Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis said yesterday it would be difficult for the government to increase margins for petroleum retailers because it would only lead to higher prices for consumers.

“As you know, we’ve been having a series of meetings with the retailers,” Halkitis said.

“They are very distressed. They are facing some enormous 

challenges. Our position has been that it would be very, very difficult for the government to approve a margin increase at this time, which would only lead to higher prices at the pump and pressure on the consumer.

“And so, what we have been doing is having some discussions to find out ways where we can bring relief to them directly based on the things that they are facing, inclusive of things like higher rents and franchise fees and the increased amount of money that they have to outlay for inventory.”

Halkitis said the technical team at the Ministry of Finance has come up with “something that we think might work”.

However, he did not disclose the proposed solution.

“We just need to agree on it internally and, hopefully, we can put something to them that can help them even if it’s a temporary measure until some of these issues subside,” Halkitis said.

Last month, some members of the Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association threatened to strike, lamenting that they continue to lose money as a result of the recent spike in oil prices.

Vasco Bastian, association vice president, said at the time that 90 percent of the association’s more than 20 members wanted to strike as gas prices continued to increase.

He noted that if gas prices at the pump are $6.16, operators still only make 54 cents as a result of a government-regulated margin.

Bastian noted the government takes $1.72 of that $6.16.

Halkitis has maintained that the government is not benefiting from the increased cost of fuel.

Concerns about the cost of oil rose after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Global oil prices have soared since. Russia is one of the world’s largest producers of oil. The cost of Brent crude and US oil exceeded $100 for the first time since 2014.

Gas prices in New Providence are $6.13 at Rubis, $6.48 at Esso and $6.35 at Shell.

Before Russia’s attack, gas prices ranged from $5.16 to $5.37.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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