Kamla, UNC members hit ‘punitive’ fuel price increase

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Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said on Friday that the increase in fuel prices is as a direct result of the closure of Petrotrin and will result in an increase in goods and services across the board.

“With food prices likely to increase further, with this fuel price hike, there is also no government plan to ensure our nation’s food security,” she said in a press release issued shortly after the Finance Minister announced the fuel price increases.

In anticipating a link would be made to the price increases and the closure of Petrotrin, Imbert insisted one had nothing to do with the other.

But in her response, Persad-Bissessar said: “The Minister’s attempt to de-link the shut-down of the Petrotrin refinery by Rowley, to the now prohibitively high price of fuel, signals a level of disdain for the population.”

Petrotrin was shut-down in 2018 and umbrella company Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd (TPHL) took its place with two entities – Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd and Heritage Petroleum – making up TPHL.

Also blaming the closure of Petrotrin for the increasing fuel prices was MP for Pointe-a-Pierre David Lee who, in a media release, said the country will be paying more for fuel because of the government’s reckless destruction of Petrotrin and the energy sector.

“The announcement by the Minister of Finance that gas prices would increase not only signals catastrophe for citizen’s standard of living, but shows clearly that our citizens are being punished due to the Rowley-led government’s decision to shut down the refinery while also crippling oil production.”

He added that if Petrotrin was operating, the country would have been making millions and the subsidy would not have to be touched, thus cushioning citizens from the increase in global fuel prices.

Oropouche West MP Dave Tancoo said the decision to increase fuel prices is a punitive measure imposed on an already overburdened population.

In a WhatsApp response to Newsday, Tancoo who is the shadow finance minister, said the fuel increase is par for the course from “an insensitive and uncaring government.”

“Several years ago, Imbert raised fuel prices because oil and gas prices were low. Today, he raised prices because oil and gas prices are high. Predictably, this will add to the already rising cost of transport and all aspects of life which have a transport component,” Tancoo said.

He added: “Of particular concern is the effect on food prices bearing in mind that prices are already escalating because of global supply chain issues and the failure to sufficiently stimulate the domestic agricultural sector. Citizens are already seeing their standard of living fall as the purchasing power of the TT dollar is devalued.”

He said the elderly and those earning low wages will be adversely affected by the “harsh and insensitive punishment” by an uncaring Government.

Also condemning the increase was UNC public relations officer Dr Kirk Meighoo who said the budget should have been presented in such a way that citizens were not burdened with increasing cost of living.

“As an oil producing country it is a reasonable expectation that we benefit from that,” Meighoo said, adding that Government continues to mismanage the country’s resources.

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