The government is due to announce new rates for petroleum products sold in St Lucia on Monday. It is a day that many are looking to with great expectation. As with everything else in this country there have been differing explanations about how government goes about setting fuel prices and the impact which this has on the pockets of consumers, business, government itself, dealers, retailers etc.
Frankly, we wish there was more transparency in the whole business of fuel price fixing and explanations offered that were simple enough so that the man in the street could understand the whole thing. That way we might succeed in eliminating the ill-informed debate that takes place all the time about who is deceiving the public or twisting the facts.
The people of St Lucia who, we repeat, have endured some significant hardships over the past three years with rises in various commodities and services, care little at this time about who is explaining or interpreting correctly or truthfully the price fixing mechanism and the effects on their pockets. They follow developments in the world, see oil prices tumbling all over the place, and hear the ways in which consumers in other countries are benefitting as a result, and want to know why it is that they have not been privileged to enjoy the same. That’s the long and short of it all.
What we do believe, however, is that the decline in the price of oil on the world market to the extent that we have seen over the last six months, and the prospects for further reductions during this year, according to some international industry experts, present countries with a golden opportunity to improve balance sheets, create jobs, bring energy consumption rates down, boost government revenues, and spur economic development, but only if people are not greedy and want to hog the spinoffs all for themselves.
Exactly by how much should St. Lucia’s fuel rates come down on Monday, we will not suggest a figure. What we do hope, however, is that it will be significant enough to allow all players, especially the consuming public and the business sector, an opportunity for some breathing space, encourage spending and investment and generate some employment to push the island’s battered economy along. St. Lucia simply cannot afford another 2014 when many of us, especially business people, stared down the barrel, so to speak.
We do not suggest for a moment that falling oil prices will by itself work magic for our country. However, with Monday’s announcement coming so early in the new year, St. Lucians are desperate for some positive sign of economic changes in the country after the gloom especially over the last two to three years, and one hopes that the government recognizes this.
Dominica’s gasolene rates came down yesterday from $12.82 to $11.42 a gallon, the rate in St Kitts and Nevis, we are told is down to $10.75. Surely we in St Lucia should be in for a significant decrease from the $15.80 we have been paying.