A fuel supplier in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has asked the government to increase the wholesale price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) — “ cooking gas” — even as another says that the current wholesale prices are still too high.
Rubus West Indies Ltd. has asked for the prices to be increased less than a week after the government revised the retail price of LPG for the first time since 2011.
On Monday, Vincentians began paying between EC$29 and EC$33 for a 20-pound cylinder of cooking gas, depending on the area where they live, down from at least EC$41.81 — a reduction of EC$12.81.
A 25lb cylinder of the fuel now sells for $36.25.
A 100lb cylinder of LPG is now EC$138 in Areas I, II and III and EC$159 in Area IV, a saving of EC$59.05.
But Mauricio Nicholls, managing director of Rubis West Indies Ltd., in a letter to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce Nathanial Williams said his company is “deeply concerned” about the new regulated prices approved by the government.
Nicholls asked that government consider moving the wholesale price of a 100lb cylinder of LPG to EC$132, a 25lb cylinder to EC$35.25, and a 20lb cylinder to EC$28.25, a proposal that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves rejected at a press conference on Tuesday.
The prices proposed by Rubis will see the wholesale price of a 100lb cylinder of LPG being $6 lower than the current retail price, a 25lb cylinder being $1 higher than the retail price, and a 20lb cylinder being 75 cents lower than the retail price.
“We understand that the prices are significantly higher than the new prices your government has approved, but they are the minimum prices we require to preserve our historical wholesale margin in light of the sharp increases in acquisition premiums we have see since 2011. These minimum prices are based on our current landing costs and would have to be reevaluated, should the Mt Belvieu postings increase,” Nicholls wrote.
But Gonsalves said that if his government were to accept Rubis’ proposal, a 20lb cylinder of LPG would have to be sold for EC$37 — just EC$4.81 less than the previous price.
“This still doesn’t give us anything with the details of the build out, which they told me today … that they [are] going send for us,” Gonsalves said of Rubis.
“How [the Ministry of] Trade begging you all the time for it and you can’t bring it?”
He said he has spoken to the local representative of Rubis, adding, “And no doubt, the minister will discuss with his officials and provide suitable reply to this letter.”
While Rubis is lobbying for an increase, Sol, another petroleum supplier, which buys LPG from Rubis, has told the government that the wholesale price is too high.
“Interestingly, Sol is saying that the wholesale price of EC$21.65 cents for the 20-pound cylinder is too high given the current Mt Belvieu price and that that should be reduced. My conversation with the Sol people this morning is that. They said that it should be 18 dollars and some cents rather than 21.65. Now, Rubis is saying it has to be 28.25,” Gonsalves told reporters.