Govt’s announcement of unchanged fuel prices is just testing the waters for imminent increases, Dr. Daniel says

Former university lecturer Dr. George Daniel says he is not
impressed with a press statement, issued by the Ministry of
Finance, about the Government’s continued subsidy of fuel and
related products.

On Wednesday afternoon, February 14, the Ministry announced
the implementation of a “refined pass-through mechanism” for fuel
price, which is meant to ensure the Government meets its 2024
target for consumption-tax revenue.

The Browne Administration brands this a “strategic initiative to
strengthen fiscal resilience” and to ensure increased transparency
and predictability when international oil prices change.
Recently, the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) announced price
increases; but the Government has opted to maintain the retail
prices at the pump, the release said.
“The pricing structure for gasoline and diesel, along with the
margins for WIOC, inland transport, and gas station dealers, will
remain unchanged,” the statement says.
Hence, effective Thursday, February 15, the price for gasoline is
$13.99 per gallon while diesel is $14.25 per gallon.
The 20-pound LPG remains at $32 per bottle; the 25-pound LPG
at $40 per bottle; and the 100-pound LPG at $155 per cylinder.
According to the Government, in order to support consumers, it
will continue to provide subsidies of $5.16 and $6.45 per bottle
and $17.64 per cylinder, respectively.
However, Dr. Daniel points out that the prices quoted have been
in place for some time now.
Further, he says, the Administration is simply continuing the
practice that has been in place for decades: That is, when prices
on the world market go up, the Government would provide
subsidies to cushion the consumer from the full effect.

The former lecturer believes that – with this press release – the
Browne Administration is testing the waters to gauge the public’s

reaction before it actually increases the prices of fuel and LPG
Because, he says, the Browne Administration is looking to wring
revenues from whatever sources it can.

The question persons should be asking is “by how much” prices
will go up when the time comes, Dr. Daniel says.
At that time, he adds, he is confident that the hikes will be blamed
on the pass-through mechanism – which, ironically, the
Administration failed to implement when oil prices were going

That was Dr. George Daniel, former university lecturer.
Dr. Daniel reminds consumers that when fuel prices dropped
during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government made a killing
on consumption tax – amounting to about 200 percent in taxes
from gasoline and diesel – while the people did not benefit.
He is expecting that when the next shipment of fuel arrives in
Antigua and Barbuda, there could be another announcement of
an increase in fuel prices.