The minority political party in Antigua and Barbuda is accusing the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne-led administration of politicizing the gas prices. Today Wednesday, residents of the twin island nation will pay just a little over a dollar less for gas at the pumps, Prime Minister Browne announced over the weekend.
But the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) believes that the government must provide citizens and residents with significant relief “from the heavy burden of the very high cost of living and stop playing politics with the price of gas and diesel at the pump and give meaningful reduction to reflect the true realities of the energy sector”.
Anthony Stuart, DNA’s Candidate for All Saints West and spokesperson on Finance, Statutory Bodies, and Government owned entities including the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) said, “the cost of a barrel of crude oil on the world market today is about US$90.00 representing a decrease of about US$50.00 from a high of US$140.00 at the peak of the Russia/Ukraine war.
Additionally, Stewart said towards the end of May/beginning of June 2022, the Government increased the price at the pump by 25% or EC$5.00 per gallon over March 2022 prices which represents a ratio of about EC$1.00 increase at the pump for every US$10.00 increase in the cost of crude oil on the world market.
But Stuart, who claimed to have been keenly studying and following developments in the global energy sector further said, “the refining cost has also fallen steeply while the transportation logistics have greatly improved resulting in a reduction in shipping costs.”
In a passionate plea to the government, Stuart stated, “the cost of crude oil on the world market of US$90 today for a barrel was the same average cost in 2021 with near similar refining and shipping costs when the price for a gallon of gas was EC$12.50 and a gallon of diesel was EC$12.20,”.
According to him, back then, the government collected EC$47.5 million in consumption tax; therefore, the reduction in the price of gas and diesel at the pump from tomorrow, September 7, 2022, should follow the same ratio as the increase of EC$1.00 for every US$10.00 which the government imposed in May and therefore, should cause a decrease in the gas price to no more than EC$12.50 and diesel price to no more than EC$12.20.
Stewart said further that the DNA is not persuaded by Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s subsidy argument which is designed to justify the government’s unconscionable refusal to provide relief to the people.
“Talk by the Prime Minister about the government paying WIOC millions in subsidies monthly for the last several months is a big, fat, smoking red herring because there have been price adjustments at the pump for almost every shipment since March 2022; I, therefore, call on the Prime Minister and his government to exercise the transparency they always tout and release the price build-up on every price adjustment as was done with the first price increase at the pump in March 2022,” he added.
The DNA is not the only political party criticizing the reduction in gas prices. On Monday the main Opposition United Progressive Party took its turn saying that the dollar something reduction is “nothing”.