Govt hopeful for compromise with fuel retailers


Tribune Staff Reporter


ECONOMIC Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis said officials are hopeful they will be able to announce a solution or compromise with fuel retailers over the next few weeks.

Retailers are asking for increases to margins of 54 cents per gallon of gasoline, and 34 cents per gallon of diesel, stating that its "desperately needed” to cover costs.

Halkitis said on Friday the government is sympathetic to their plight and continue to talk with retailers.

“We’re moving closer and, so I think we can, without sort of promising anything I think we’re moving closer. I understand that they are very anxious. They have been very patient and they’ve continued to endure in a difficult environment.”

“We are not unsympathetic and, so, we are looking and hopefully within the coming weeks, we will be able to announce some solution or some compromise.”

The minister underscored the balancing act of not having Bahamians pay higher prices at the pump while also not having Bahamian entrepreneurs struggle.

“We are tweaking some proposals where we can minimize the increase, and we want to get that resolved and out of the way within the next couple weeks.”

In March, Acting Press Secretary Keishla Adderly said the government is trying to reach a “create a happy medium” with Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association (BPRA).

The Association, in its February 26, 2024, letter to the Prime Minister, said increases to the 54 cents per gallon of gasoline, and 34 cents per gallon of diesel, margins are “so desperately needed” because it is impossible for them to cover costs that have escalated significantly over the past decade-plus.

“Prime Minister, on behalf of our members, I wish to request an urgent meeting with you to discuss the dire straits that petroleum retailers find themselves. With your leadership, we must come to a final resolution on the margin adjustment,” Mr Raymond Jones BPRA president wrote for the Association.

“Many petroleum retailers are at the point of closing their doors as costs continue to mount against the current margin. These businesses affect the livelihoods of countless Bahamian entrepreneurs and their employees, and a closure of any of these sites has a ripple effect in our economy,” he continued.

“We are Bahamian entrepreneurs and need immediate relief via a margin adjustment which is established by the Government. It has been more than a decade since a margin adjustment was made, clearly not keeping pace with the rising costs.

“Prime Minister, we were told over and repeatedly ‘wait for the price to go down, then the Government will take action’. Last year, 2023, and in 2022, between July and September, a significant price decrease [in global oil costs] was realised, yet despite our appeals for a mere $25 cents per gallon [increase] no action was taken. We are respectfully calling on you to take decisive action with this matter.”


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