The threat of a shutdown in Dominica is not Covid; it is the Dominica Fuel Retailers Association (DFRA), who in a Press Release today 3rd September 2021, advised the general public that they will cease operations from September 3, from 1 pm until further notice.
According to the release, the dealers have been engaged with officials of the Ministry of Trade since 23 July 2021 for a margin increase to avoid the “collapse of this critical industry.” Like Saint Lucia, fuel is a controlled product with government determining the margins for dealers and the retail price of petroleum products. Since 2014, the government promised to review the pricing structure of fuel, in particular the margins for dealers, but have failed to act.
The pandemic has resulted in low volume sales, adding to the woes of dealers having to already endure low margins. The financial losses of those fuel stations have clearly become unsustainable. Of course, the success of the dealers in getting the government to act will depend on the strength of the Association to hold out until their demands are met.
St Lucia News Online is yet to ascertain how many of the dealers are members of the association. If that number is not significant , then the protest is unlikely to succeed in meeting its objective: increase in fuel margins.
Meanwhile, Rubis, one of the two petroleum marketing companies- the other Sol- in the islands, is threatening to withdraw its operations from Dominica over the same issue of low margins. Letters of termination have already been sent, back in August 2021, to some members of staff. The Prime Minister, Skerritt, has reacted assertively, saying that his government will not be bullied by the threat of closure, and that there were other companies willing to supply Dominica with product.