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Statement by Hon. Dr. Ernest Hilaire on gas prices

BY HON DR ERNEST HILAIRE

Castries South MP Dr. Ernest Hilaire.

In 2012, shortly after assuming office, the SLP kept its election promise to reduce the excise tax on petrol to $2.50 per gallon.

As world prices fluctuated, the UWP whilst in opposition accused the SLP of hiding $6.80 in taxes on each gallon of petrol. With elections on the horizon, the UWP headed by Allen Chastenet held two marches against the “hidden tax” which they claimed was causing the price of petrol to be too high. (In response to the march SLP reduced the period of adjustment from three (3) months to three (3) weeks) Price mechanism did not change. They promised to reduce prices if elected.

Among the first pronouncements made by Prime Minister Chastanet upon assumption of office was that he “already signed” the SI reducing gas prices. That was a lie. The ‘so-called’ hidden tax was never removed and the pricing mechanism was never changed.

The Government hid the new tax in the estimates and it was only upon careful analysis the SLP Parliamentarians realised there was going to be an additional excise tax hidden there to be applied to petrol. Though raised by the SLP, the Prime Minister and his Minister in the Ministry of Finance refused to acknowledge this during the Debate on the Estimates.

During the Budget Debate it was explained that the $1.50 was to fix roads and would create a dedicated revenue stream. Whilst there is in the Estimates a line item reflecting the revenue collection there is no corresponding line item in expenditure to reflect the expenditure of such revenue. Of course you will recall that the Minister of Infrastructure did not speak in the Budget Debate and therefore explanation has been given to the people of Saint Lucia.

By delaying the passage of the budget, the Prime Minister has lost three (3) months or 25% of the money he claims would be allocated for roads.

Further, by capping the price at $12.75 if the landed cost of gas is over $11.25, the new tax of $1.50 allocation will be reduced by whatever sum the landed cost exceeds $11.25. If the landed price is above $12.75, it means not only will the government get no tax but they will also have to use taxpayers money simply to keep the gas cap at $12.75. This raises certain questions – what is the basis of the cap and with who was this cap agreed to? If monies have been budgeted for road repairs based on the tax but there is a shortfall because of the cap, then how would roads repairs be financed?

In a piece prepared by Richard Peterkin, he states that the intentions announced in the Budget is to place the new revenue stream in a separate account rather than the consolidated fund but this will require amendments in the existing financial legislation and regulations to do so.

It is very clear that any attempt to change our laws to allow Government to create separate accounts outside the consolidated fund to place taxpayer’s money will be strongly resisted by the Labour Party.

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9 comments

  1. This there does not show that there is any deep knowledge of the local oil economy, nor the global oil picture. Any moron, today or tomorrow, can stand up and say just the same. It is just politics.

    (9)(0)
  2. What, he works for Government now? Oh, I see he is trying to run them down (the Govt). It's all about sour grapes and gas. Who cares? Where have we heard that in the past. When will they ever learn of honour? When will they ever work together?

    (8)(1)
  3. The Government must appreciate and understand that it cannot simply establish new accounts in order to create special revenue streams. In order to do so, it will have to create the necessary financial legislation. Otherwise, the Government must place all monies in the Consolidated Fund. Now, if the Government does not follow the regulations and goes to Parliament to do as it pleases, people should not be surprised if the Opposition walks out again. If anyone of you reading this thinks that the Opposition should not walk out, please post your comments quickly and tell the Opposition what it should in the circumstances. Remember, the Government will be breaking the law. So what should the Opposition do. Speak now, speak honestly, speak frankly. If you even want the Opposition to remain in the House while the Government breaks the law, please say so too. But speak now, before the next walk out happens. Cool ?

    (1)(9)
  4. Bla bla bla bla bla empty noise you guys have nothing to talk about now so you looking to put something in the public domain

    (9)(2)
  5. oh my the irrelevant will even use gas prices to be relevant. the money from Juffali probably running out of gas.

    (18)(2)
    • No shame, you are not in any position to criticize when you have questions ,marks all over your face. You are not a moral man and you are not fooling anyone. Please crawl back to the shit hole you came from.

      (1)(2)
  6. SLP didn't do nothing for st Lucian's under the labour party roads were not Fix's

    (9)(3)
  7. Ernest, since when we're you appointed leader of the opposition? Please let PJP do his job or is it part of KDA plot to get you on the Laba throne?! Ti yay chou ou la!

    (9)(1)
  8. Who cares Ernest! Choops .... stop with the politics

    (12)(1)

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