Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says he is “usually amazed” by some people’s lack of understanding of what is taking place in the world.
He was speaking specifically about the price of fuel at the pump, as Vincentian saw their ninth price increase in just over a year.
As of Dec. 28, Vincentians are paying EC$12.59 per gallon for diesel, EC$12.41 for low sulphur diesel and EC$14.72 for gasoline.
These prices represent an EC$1.11 increase per gallon of diesel, 66 cents increase for low sulphur diesel, and 24 cents hike per gallon of gasoline at the pump, over the Nov. 24 prices.
“I’m usually amazed that some persons don’t understand what’s happening in the world around us,” Gonsalves said on the state-owned NBC Radio.
He said that fuel price internationally was increasing and when it stabilised, the cost of shipping was on the rise.
“And as a result, we have had to increase, using the same formula which we have always used — when the prices go up, we do the alteration; when the prices come down, we do a similar alteration.”
Gonsalves said that the system works.
“Now, when it comes down and comes down markedly, you don’t have any complaints, naturally. But if it goes up there are people who want the government to subsidise it.
“How can you expect the government to subsidise gasoline prices or diesel prices at the pump?”
The prime minister said when the price per barrel of oil increased to US$148 in 2008, his government gave subsidies to minibus operators .
He noted that back then, the price per gallon of gasoline was nearing EC$16 at the pump.
He said that currently, the main opposition New Democratic Party “and their financiers” are trying “to flood” the internet with photos of him and Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves, asking why employment and commodity prices are increasing under the Gonsalves government.
“They ain’t read what happening in the United States of America and Britain?” Gonsalves said.
“They have control over those things than any government in the Caribbean. But the point about it is this: they wouldn’t tell you that the price of gasoline and diesel in St. Vincent and Grenadines is still among the lowest in the Caribbean.”
He said that, historically, only Trinidad and Tobago, which produces and subsidises oil, has lower prices than SVG.
Occasionally, prices in Guyana have been lower than in SVG, Gonsalves said, adding that with Guyana now an oil producer, it would have lower prices.
“… we have a structure, we have a system in the way in which we do it.
“A fella has an SUV. He has a woman in Sandy Bay, he got one in Chateaubelair, he lives in Mespo. I must subsidise him driving his SUV to Sandy Bay to see his woman and the one in Chateaubelair? What happened to the poor person? Is one pot of money you know. In any time of any difficulty, we have to make adjustments,” Gonsalves said.