The price of gas is set to increase this week, as Prime Minister Gaston Browne claims his government cannot “take it any further,” referring to the subsidizing of fuel at the pump.
On Saturday, March 12, Browne reminded residents that, about a month ago, his administration had signaled a likely increase in the price of petroleum products.
At that time, he says, it was predicted that a barrel of oil would rise to US$120. However, it has actually risen to almost US$146, he says, while the cost of diesel is now US$163 per barrel.
Given these increases in fuel prices, Browne says, the Government would have to pay a monthly subsidy of $2 million to $2.5 million to the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) to maintain the current prices at the pump.
Browne says the hike in fuel prices should take effect either today, March 14, or tomorrow, Tuesday, March 15.
He says the new costs will “definitely be in excess of $15” in order to ensure the Government breaks even.
If the Government nets $2 million or $2.5 million a month, Browne says, this would greatly assist in meeting some obligations at this time when revenues are already down by 20 percent.
Browne, who is also the finance minister, says that motorists will have to find ways to conserve fuel.
He is also making an appeal to those in the public-transportation industry – especially bus drivers – to “hold the strain,” saying he hopes this will be a temporary situation.
Meanwhile, the United Progressive Party (UPP) acknowledges that the war in Ukraine is creating a global energy crisis, which will have ripple effects.
The Party says it will impact the already high cost of living, which is, itself, a crisis and predicts it is going to get even worse.
Now that petrol prices are the first casualty, electricity prices, imported goods and the overall cost of food are all going to increase even more, the UPP says.
“Now is the time to harness our sun, our sea and our wind to create cheaper energy right here in Antigua & Barbuda,” the Party recommends.