Premier launches bid to cut the cost of gas and diesel
A temporary freeze on gas and diesel prices and a review to try and cut the cost of fuel was yesterday announced by the Premier.
David Burt, who is also the finance minister, pledged to try and reduce fuel costs next month against a backdrop of a cost of living crisis triggered by inflation and the effects of the war in Ukraine.
Mr Burt told MPs he had vetoed a proposed gas price hike of five per cent – an increase of 45 cents a gallon – this month.
The House of Assembly heard that Mr Burt also rejected a 6.7 per cent increase, or 54 cents a gallon, on diesel.
The move came after a sharp rise of 56 cents a gallon for gas in the first two months of the year.
Mr Burt told MPs: “The public may have noted that in January there was an increase of 1.7 per cent for gasoline and an increase of 3.2 per cent for diesel. In February, the increases were 4.9 per cent for gasoline and 4.7 per cent for diesel.
“I am pleased to advise the public that in keeping with the promise made to the people of this country I have rejected the recommendation to increase the cost of gasoline and diesel and ordered a review that will look to see if price reductions can be made.”
He added: “Next month, it is my aim to approve a reduction in the price of gasoline and diesel.
“Representatives of the Ministry of Finance spoke with a fuel company stakeholder and I am pleased that they have indicated their support of my decision to temporarily freeze the fuel prices.
“To do otherwise would place an undue burden on the public – hardworking Bermudians who are now looking to renew this economy and improve personal financial situations.
“Jointly, fuel suppliers and the Ministry of Finance have committed to further meetings to analyse necessary changes to the pricing model that is currently being used in this area to ensure that prices can be reduced.”
Mr Burt said the island was better placed than many countries to deal with fuel cost rises.
He explained: “Although prices may increase over time depending on supply chain issues and more recently Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the situation in Bermuda is different from many other countries in the world.
“Due to several factors, the local fuel companies import fuel on average three to four times a year, which often results in the cost of their inventory differing from the global fuel prices even when there is a significant change in global pricing.”
Mr Burt said: “Essentially, the local fuel companies are often carrying inventory that is either more or less expensive than the current world fuel prices at any given time.
“At the present time. the fuel companies would mostly likely be carrying less expensive inventory given that fuel prices have increased fairly recently.
“This allows the fuel companies to successfully navigate this price freeze in the short-term without significant operational impact.
“I am advised by technical officers in the Ministry of Finance that the existing practice is to adjust prices monthly and, as such, I have instructed technical officers in the Ministry of Finance to review the way in which price changes are approved with a view to reducing gasoline prices as much as possible.”
Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister, sent a strong signal last December that he had no plans to introduce price controls.
Mr Dickinson, who quit the post only days before the February 25 Budget, said before last Christmas: “I don’t see price controls coming forth.
“What I do see is that most of our goods are imported from Canada, the US, the UK, who are all experiencing inflation.
“And so, inasmuch as we continue to import from those countries because we do not have the natural resources to develop goods on our own, we will actually be importing inflation.”
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