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Ruling Party Defends New Fuel Rates

THE ruling St Lucia Labour Party yesterday told how it was working for the people of St Lucia and to restore the island’s economy.

It came in a statement that was critical of United Workers Party (UWP) leader Allen Chastanet’s response to the lowering of fuel prices announced by the government on Monday. The UWP is contending that the level of the decrease in prices was not enough and accused the government of insensitivity to the economic condition facing St Lucians.

The SLP said that between 2009 and 2011, during which time the price of crude oil was rising on the international market, Chastanet was part of the UWP government imposed an excise tax of $3.00 per gallon on gasolene and diesel. This flew in the face of common sense and entirely contradicted the position they are trying to adopt today, the ruling party said.

“When oil prices are trending upwards, as they continued to do until 2014, a compassionate, considerate, and indeed competent government should reduce the burden of taxation it imposes on a vital commodity. The UWP Government did the exact opposite”, the SLP said.

It said the party had pledged to reduce that burden, and it delivered. “Since 2011, excise tax on gas and diesel has been reduced to $2.50 on average. On occasion it has been even lower. When prices were rising, the lower excise tax put in place by the SLP administration helped create a buffer against the continued rise in international oil prices. Now that prices are going down, Saint Lucians can get even greater relief at the pumps”, the statement added

It added that the government also took the step of modifying the pass-through mechanism so that the prices of petroleum products are adjusted on a quarterly basis, as opposed to the four-week schedule that was in place under the UWP.

“The intention of the modified pass-through mechanism is to create stability, to reduce the exposure of the common Saint Lucian and of our economy to the volatility of international oil prices. This system has worked well over the past three years, when the cost of crude continued to rise on the global market. Consumers, commuters, bus and taxi drivers, home owners know and can plan for the next three months. If oil prices continue to fall, ordinary citizens can look forward to further good news”

It said the SLP had reduced the excise tax from $3.00 to $2.50 “to allay the burden of taxation on the ordinary Saint Lucian”. Government has also modified the pass-through mechanism to create greater cost certainty and protect regular consumers and had maintained subsidies on cooking gas, even as prices had begun to fall for the last two quarters.

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