Gas Dealer Prophesies Wall-to-wall ‘Rumblings!’

Senator and fuel dealer Everistus Jn Marie.

As the nation tuned in to the 2011 budget, a large number of people stayed glued to their screens hoping out of everything the prime minister had to say of the island’s financial plans for the year, a revelation would be made somewhere along the lines of the Stephenson King administration alleviating recently amplified gas prices.
There would be no such revelation. The island’s prime minister expressed in Thursday’s budget address that “placing a cap on fuel prices, given the escalating prices, would result in a dismantling pass through mechanism and expose government to indeterminate losses of revenue.”
“Government can ill afford significant reduction in revenue at this time,” King said. “No country in the world is immune from the effects of rising oil prices, and St Lucia is not alone in dealing with this challenge.”
King announced government would still in some way “cushion the effects of high fuel prices.” In that respect he said government would further subsidize the price of the 20-pound cylinder of cooking gas by an additional $5, effective May 9, 2011, the next adjustment date. Consumers will then pay $15 less than the market price for gas, which is presently $53.16.
The gas debate continued on Timothy Poleon’s NewSpin on Friday afternoon where former president of the St Lucia Petroleum Dealers Association and Independent Senator Everistus Jn Marie warned there would be negative consequences for all including the Stephenson King administration given government’s decision not to grant petrol consumers much needed relief.
“You will have constant rumblings from the general public, you’ll have it from the mini bus association, you’ll have it from the petroleum dealers association and from a political standpoint, not withstanding the economic argument . . . it is not something to allow to happen especially in an election year.”
Regarding government’s decision to further subsidize the price of 20-pound cooking gas cylinders, Jn Marie said: “The 20-pound cylinder of cooking gas is not an issue with the general public I’d have to say. People recognize the government is doing something to reduce the burden of high prices but to go now and do an extra five dollars, that is money being misdirected. That’s not where the issue is.”
Jn Marie said an increase in the profit margin for petroleum dealers was not much of an issue for him expressing the emphasis should be on the plight of consumers. Petroleum dealers make 80 and 90 cents on every gallon of diesel and gas sold respectively.
`    Talk show host Rick Wayne was one of the callers to Timothy Poleon’s program amid a rush of calls from everyone who wanted to give their perspective on the issue.
“I sense St Lucians seem to be caught up in some kind of convenient fantasy,” Wayne expressed. “The irreducible truth is that we are reckless consumers of yet another commodity that we do not produce locally, therefore we are vulnerable to prices over which we have no control. While we’re at it we ought to examine prices for other commodities to which we appear addicted, and the repercussions of that addiction.”
Relating to the gas issue, Wayne said the bottom line was St Lucia did not produce gas, and to call on government to do anything about it was convenient. He said the call was coming “largely from people who could hardly be described as disinterested parties.”
“What we can do about gas is how we consume it on an individual basis,” Wayne went on. “Other countries with more resources have taken to carpooling, walking . . . personal sacrifices to cope with escalating fuel prices. Americans go to the gas pump and pay one price then by afternoon time the price has risen. America is a land of resources. Nobody is putting any pressure on Obama that gas prices will end up costing him the election but that is all we seem to do in St Lucia; subtly and otherwise blackmail whatever government is in power to accommodate our consumption habits and other negative traits.”
Wayne felt it was difficult for anyone not to take into consideration Jn Marie’s personal interest in the gas issue, “even when he’s speaking the truth.”
“Let alone when he’s saying things that sound like a campaigning politician,” Wayne added. “For Everistus to say government was wrong in how it is handling the fuel situation has absolutely nothing to do with solving the problem in St Lucia. It is less than subtle blackmail. We have to accept we are stuck in a situation with gasoline. Everybody is horribly affected. We refuse to curb our ways and expect to be able to enjoy the same luxuries we enjoyed when the price of gas was tolerable. We don’t want to change anything. We have to start practicing self control, as late as it is in the day.”

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