Tropical Trump fuel price bluff on St Lucians comes full circle

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By Caribbean News Global fav

TORONTO, Canada – Amid COVID-19 health and economic hardships, fear and production cuts globally, US West Texas Intermediate crude fell 9.2 percent to trade at $25.72 per barrel, while international benchmark Brent crude dipped 8.7 percent to $31.15 per barrel.

Monday’s scheduled meeting expected between president Donald Trump Russian president Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to announce a deal to cut production by up to 15 million barrels has been delayed, as tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia escalate.

Manifestly, the government of Saint Lucia back in 2015 operating from the opposition benches, organised an Orange March. In 2020 however, this has manifest to citizens that they are not willing to believe any more excuses “Enough is Enough” campaign on high gas taxes, unemployment, economic decline, lack of vision and now – COVID-19 partisanship leadership.

Back then, Guy Joseph said: “We are yet to experience one day that was not better before the 2011 elections” while Allen Chastanet said Saint Lucians have had enough, “ too many Saint Lucians were suffering and that it was time a strong signal was sent … We’re saying to the government right now that we’re not willing to believe any more of their excuses … it is the first step in the people saying enough is enough. We want the government now to start taking the people more seriously, recognize that this opposition will be watching them every single step of the way,” he said.

Conceivably, if there is one thing that Chastanet knows well – history has repeated itself to simply chanting slogans have not solved any problems he and his ‘cartels lamented’.

Vital Knowledge founder Adam Crisafulli said Sunday. “It still looks like something will happen on the supply front. “Saudi Arabia and Russia continue to publicly feud, but nearly every producer on the planet is pleading for action and even countries like Canada and Norway, which usually don’t participate in global supply actions, now seem willing to contribute. It’s unlikely 10 million barrels come offline, but some sort of a curb seems very probable by the end of this week,” he added.

Details on the fuel price framework are just as complex to policymakers even if it is clear on the surface, politically and economical in some shape or form to entrepreneurs.

Second, although the free market system is providing temporary relief before the pressure to modify production and increase world prices again – political and economic ‘figuring it out’ certainly, is a tool in the toolbox required at this time with a government that is not transparent with market information.

Everistus Jn Marie, explained the following: “The landed price of gasoline has dropped by XCD $1.68 per gallon, because of the significant decline in the price of crude oil on the world market. However, the retail price in Saint Lucia will remain unchanged at the next fuel price adjustment schedule on Monday 6, April 2020 at $13.09 per gallon.

“It means the excise tax on gasoline will be $5.68 per gallon. The excise tax on diesel will be even more at $6.04 per gallon, with no change in the price of diesel come April 6, 2020. The diesel price will remain unchanged at $12.91 per gallon. All the gains to date from the lower cost of imported fuel has been taken up by the government in higher taxes, rather than at least be shared with the consumer.

“Remember the excise tax was set in parliament in July 2017 at $4.00 per gallon: “Stream of revenue will come from an increase in the excise tax on gasoline and diesel which will be increased from $2.50 a gallon to $4.00. This will take effect from June, 2017.” ~ Budget 2017

“The question remains: With what authority are these increases being allowed to take place?”

RBC’s co-head of global energy research Kurt Hallead said. “The energy sector is facing its most challenging fundamental period since the Great Energy Depression of 1981-1995. On the oil front, demand is set to decline by amounts never before seen driven by the COVID-19 global economic shock while supply is surging due to the Saudi-Russia oil price war,” he said.

In a letter to Caribbean News Global, Carlton Augustine explained last September.

“If we recall tax reduction was a key element of the so-called Five to Stay Alive platform. The claim was made that taxes were too high and that the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate would be initially reduced with a view towards the eventual elimination.

“So, did the prime minister keep his promise to lower taxes? What is clear at this point is that while the VAT rate was lowered from 15 percent to 12.5 percent, this was quickly followed by a $1.50 increase in the gas tax. The government pulled a slight of hand on Saint Lucians. In effect, Saint Lucians did not get the tax relief which is central to the Five to Stay Alive platform. The data clearly shows that much of the shortfall in the VAT revenue was made up through an increase in the gas tax.

“We have to remember that the prime minister of Saint Lucia was the very person who as leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), who railed against high taxes. In particular, he misled unsuspecting Saint Lucians to follow him in an Orange March to protest against a false hidden $6.80 gas tax. To date, the prime minister is yet to produce the $6.80 profit that he called for under the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration.”

The government has not done its job to the benefit of the Orange March blindfolds evident by the discrepancy between local oil prices and the collapse on the international stage.

Besides the government doesn’t have any action plan, to a regular and /or irregular fuel price mechanism – the industry needs to keep the changes in their fuel prices in line with the changes on the international stage, shows once again that the sector requires reform.

Further, the government needs to acknowledge that it does not have sufficient monitoring, legal tools, enhance transparency and currently zero influence in the international stage.

In turn, the government should cease from enhancing its un-clear grasp of the situation, however challenging, to continue its regular and irregular exchanges of false-hood to an unsuspecting (with exceptions) audience.

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