Fri 7th Sep 2007

Are Vincentians being ripped-off by the VINLEC fuel surcharge?

Under the Petro-Caribe agreement SVG buys oil from Venezuela at market price with a 17 to 25 years repayment period, which includes a two years grace period when repayment can be delayed.

If VINLEC is receiving oil under the Petro-Caribe agreement and has benefited from a two year grace period when it has not paid for oil, then it is questionable whether VINLEC should have charged its customers a fuel surcharge for that corresponding two year period. In short, if VINLEC has received oil and not paid for it, why should we be paying a fuel surcharge?

The Petro-Caribe is a 'dirty' deal, a 'crude' deal, as there is no benefit to the Vincentian public. The Minster of Finance comes on t.v. beating his chest about how great the Petro-Caribe agreement is for Vincentians, but where's the benefit? Prices at the petrol pumps are high and electricity prices are high. Many Vincentians struggle to pay their high electricity bill and many Vincentians cannot even afford to use electricity at all. Large numbers of poor families are being cut-off from electricity every month. What's there to beat one's chest about? Nothing! SVG has one of the highest prices of electricity in Caribbean.

All the talk about benefits from Petro-Caribe is nonsense. SVG Green Party has explained on numerous occasions that the ULP regime is weak on finance and understanding the ripple effect of economics. What was needed in the Petro-Caribe was a cut of 20 to 30 per cent on the market price of oil from Venezuela. That way, electricity prices and petrol prices would have been cheaper for Vincentians. A 20 to 30 per cent cut in the market price of oil to SVG, would put more money in poor people's pocket to spend on food rather than electricity.

The deferred payment system is only of use to the SVG Minister of Finance by giving him latitude in the budget in the form of a loan for the oil. It gives a false indication of the public debt which already has risen dangerously by 700 million dollars under the ULP regime, with nothing to show for it.

Unborn Vincentians who have not benefited from this oil will have to pay for it in future years. They will be born in to the ULP regime's debt.

VINLEC SHOULD PAY BACK TWO YEARS WORTH OF FUEL SURCHARGE TO ITS CUSTOMERS. Vincentians are suffering under the introduction of the wicked VAT and the refund of two years' worth of fuel surcharge will substantially help many people and businesses. If VINLEC has not paid for oil over a two year period, then in effect, VINLEC customers are loaning VINLEC money, as no fuel surcharge should have been due.

The ULP regime is being deceitful in allowing VINLEC to carry on and not supplying the nation with the actual impact of the Petro-Caribe agreement on the average man in the street. One shakes one's head and wonders how much more incompetent the ULP regime can get.

It was refreshing to read in the paper that the Minister of Finance has started to build his retirement home.

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