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Consumers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines can as early as next week begin paying more for Liquified Petroleum Gas.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Consumers are expected to begin paying an average of 20 per cent more for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) — commonly called “cooking gas” — after the government and fuel supplier RUBIS and SOL struck a deal this week.

In making the announcement on Wednesday, Minister of Trade and Consumer Affairs, Sen. Douglas Slater said while the increase come “at a very difficult economic time”, the government had to agree to it because of the economic conditions internationally.

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When Cabinet — which meets on Wednesdays — approves the new prices, a 100-pound cylinder of LPG will retail for a maximum of EC$197.05, an increase of EC$34.05.

The price of a 25-pound cylinder has been increased by EC$9.42 and consumers will now pay EC$53.42, while the price of the 20-pound cylinder have climbed EC$6.81 to EC$41.81

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“On average, it is about a 20 per cent increase in the prices,” Slater said, explaining that the government had ensured that the fuel remains reasonably priced.

“We know that this comes at a very difficult economic time and that is why we have engaged in negotiations so intensively to ensure that we get the best price. We have also made and agreement with the suppliers RUBIS that we will sit down and look at every step of the price make up — do a review of every step so that we can ensure that the consumer gets the best deal,” Slater further said.

The increase in price came after negotiations between SOL and its supplier collapsed last week and SOL decided to pull LPG from the Vincentian market.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace had blamed the Unity Labour Party administration for the situation, saying that the government’s fiscal policy, including the deficit budget it has been running since 2005, had made Vincentians less able to cope with a price increase.

“But because things are so bad, any price increase now hits you (the consumer) very hard. So, they (the government) are afraid to give the company any increase in the price of gas,” Eustace said on Monday, adding the global economic crisis also contributed to the situation.