Tue | Aug 3, 2021

Paulwell says gov’t should remove fuel tax to offer immediate relief

Published:Tuesday | June 22, 2021 | 2:22 PM
Paulwell says the price of petroleum products has reached an all-time high and will have a devastating impact on the economy. - File photo.

Phillip Paulwell, the opposition spokesperson on energy, is calling for the Government to remove the tax on petroleum products to bring immediate relief to consumers amid the rising prices at pumps.

Paulwell says the price of petroleum products has reached an all-time high and will have a devastating impact on the economy. 

The ex-refinery costs for E-10 87,  E-10 97 and ultra-low sulphur diesel now sell for $149, $155 and $151 per litre respectively.

He further says that gasoline dealers are expected to add their mark-ups before the products reach consumers at the pump.

That's why he says the Government must move to offer reprieve to consumers.

In a statement this morning, the opposition energy spokesperson argued that while petroleum price on the world market is still relatively low at approximately US$70 per barrel, that price is expected to rise, which means that there is the likelihood of further price movement on the local market.

“The poor and our middle class can't bear any more. Many are at the breaking point. It's time for the government to listen and respond to the plight of our people,” said Paulwell.

With the latest announcement of the ex-factory prices by the state-owned oil refinery PetroJam, Paulwell says he is overly concerned about the impact of these increases on all goods and services produced and their delivery throughout Jamaica.

He is contending that the price movement would also impact all sectors of the economy, particularly transportation, which is still undergoing a period of uncertainty and adjustment.

Paulwell said his greatest trepidation is the continuing impact of the gas price increases on the standard of living of poor and middle-income households who are devastated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the Government must cease its hedge fund tax intake from a moral standpoint as a first step in bringing relief to consumers because it has long abandoned the hedge fund policy and there is no accrued benefit to consumers.

“This five-year deception of collecting hedge fund tax at the pump and not using it for its intended purpose must stop because it adds to the trust deficit of the citizenry in public administration. Plus, one has to be concerned about its impacts on the price of petroleum to the end-user.”

The opposition spokesman said he previously called for the abolition of the practice and proposed that the proceeds of the hedge tax be used to finance solar installations for every single user under 300 kWh per month, but the government has rejected the suggestion.

Paulwell, in the meantime, is appealing to motorists to shop around for the best prices before making purchases because this can result in significant savings in this unpredictable environment.

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