The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has spoken out against the increase in the prices of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) announced by the government earlier this month.
Consumers across St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as of May 10, began paying more for LPG, known commonly as “cooking gas”.
The highest increase is on LPG bottled by the state-owned PetroCaribe company, (PDV SVG). LPG from PetroCaribe had been touted as a competitive and cheaper alternative.
The increases affect consumers regardless of where they purchase their LPG across the country, including in the Grenadines.
Speaking at a press conference last week, Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday, noted that the increase came days after Vincentians began paying an additional percentage point on value added tax, which now stands at 16 per cent.
He noted that last year, the government also made more food items ‘vatable’.
“Talk ain’t cheap no more — because you are paying VAT on phone bills on incoming and outgoing calls, and, all of a sudden now, … gas prices have been increased without any relationship, it seems to me, to the world prices of fuel.”
He said that in some cases the increases as are “quite significant”.
He noted that the 94 lb PDV gas in area 4 — the Grenadines, went up from EC$138 to EC$166.
“That’s $28 increase in one shot, Friday said, adding, “The increases range from anywhere from $3.10 up to $28….
“In some areas, you have a 22 per cent increase. This is putting tremendous burden on people. And you go and you hear people complaining about, you know, they to go register their vehicles and they are suddenly hit with these huge increases in the registration of their vehicles.
“And the potholes gets bigger and bigger and you have to buy tyres more often than you used to. Your shocks, your spring, your vehicles are getting damaged all the time.”
Friday used the increased LPG prices to restate the New Democratic Party’s calls for the Ralph Gonsalves administration to account for the hundreds of millions spent to build the Argyle International Airport.
The NDP is also calling on the government to lay in Parliament the accounts for PetroCaribe.
“These are things that are affecting people ordinarily and we are saying, you have a requirement to report to people how the money is being spent,” Friday said.
“Show them how the money is spent so that people know when there is a cost and it falls on you, you can’t do any better, it’s not because funds are being wasted and money is not being spent properly, because government resources are being treated as though it is a slush fund to do things that are people’s pet projects. That is not how it is supposed to go. That is all we are asking for,” he said.