THE opposition United Workers Party yesterday hailed the government’s decision to further reduce fuel prices as a victory not for itself but one for the people.
The UWP welcomed the reduction in rates—the second within the last four weeks— but said the government had now shown, “both in the last quarter and with this recent unplanned change, that there were substantial surpluses, but is yet to confirm who the beneficiary was. We are once again asking the government to bring clarity on this matter”.
The UWP said after weeks of persistent calls it welcomed the news of reduced prices on petroleum products.
“The UWP recognizes that while the next scheduled adjustment was slated for April 2015, the SLP Administration did the right thing, for once, and provided the much needed relief that Saint Lucians have been yearning for.
“This victory belongs, not only to the United Workers Party but to all Saint Lucians who feel the squeeze from high fuel prices, rising cost of living, VAT, unemployment, increase in water and light bills and VAT on non-prescription medication and boldly expressed their discontent through their participation in the 29th January 2015 march”.
It thanked everyone who came out to march adding that it was “the bravery of the thousands of Saint Lucians who exercised their democratic right that forced the Government to listen and to act”.
It promised to remain vigilant and a strong advocate for more balanced socio-economic policies.
Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly Dr. Gail Rigobert said Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony had finally conceded to “one of the several demands of Saint Lucians who have been reeling under the oppressive rule of this Labour Party Administration”.
She said notwithstanding the further price reductions taking effect yesterday, it was evident that for months, the Prime Minister had stubbornly chosen to ignore the calls of the people to adjust fuel prices downward in alignment with the sharp declines on the international market, in order to satisfy his Government’s self-serving interest.
“It had to take a peaceful march on January 29th, 2015, and the people’s expression of their universal dissatisfaction and discontent with the government’s failing policies to get the Prime Minister to act”, Rigobert said.
The government statement announcing the new reductions in rates said the move was consistent with the statements of the Prime Minister made earlier.
It said: “This decision follows a review of the three month pricing mechanism announced by the Prime Minister in his address to the nation. In that address, the Prime Minister said that ‘If the price of a barrel of oil declines even more sharply in the next few weeks, it may well make sense to adjust the period of calculation from a period of twelve weeks to eight weeks or even less in the short term.”
Added the government statement: “Having reviewed the movement of prices in the last few weeks, the government has decided that it makes sense to adopt a flexible approach to deal with the uncertainty that prevails in fuel prices. In this current period of lower fuel prices, the government will apply the pass through mechanism every three weeks to allow consumers to benefit from any further downward movement in prices. However, if prices show an upward movement, the Government will consider reverting to the three month pass through mechanism or a variation of it to restore greater stability in prices as it had done so successfully in the past three years”