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No end in sight

Bahamians urged to conserve as fuel prices remain elevated

Acting Prime Minister Chester Cooper yesterday warned Bahamians that there is no end in sight to high fuel prices.

“As it relates to consumers, I would simply say to conserve,” Cooper told reporters before the weekly Cabinet meeting.

“We anticipate that prices are going to be escalated for the foreseeable future and we simply have to conserve the way we would [use] energy otherwise. The one thing I would add, though, is that our government has put in place significant measures in the budget to reduce the cost of living.

“We hope that those changes that we have made in our policies will trickle to the pockets directly of the Bahamian people. We are seeing it at the cash register already.”

Cooper said policies implemented by the government are causing prices to go down for consumers.

He said the Davis administration promised to deliver relief to Bahamians as they grapple with a high cost of living.

“We are delighted that they are seeing it at the cash register,” Cooper said.

Gas prices in The Bahamas have continued to climb for the last four months. The surge in the price of gas per gallon has largely been attributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

As of yesterday, gas prices in New Providence were $6.97 at Shell, $6.98 at Rubis and $7.39 at Esso.

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

Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association Vice President Vasco Bastian said yesterday that he hopes gas prices will not get any higher.

He declined to respond to Cooper’s comments.

Gas station operators, who threatened to strike in April, have maintained that they are not benefiting from the rising prices at the pump.

For example, for a gallon of gas that is $6.16 at the gas station, the gas station operators will take home 54 cents and the petroleum wholesalers will take home 34 cents. The landed cost of the gas before VAT will be $3.56 and $1.72 will go to duties and taxes.

Gas station operators continue to call on the government to intervene, noting that the situation has reached crisis level for them.

Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis indicated last month that the government does not intend to increase the margin for gas station operators.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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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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