Finance and Economy Minister Larry Howai announced in his presentation of the 2012/2013 Budget yesterday that the price of premium gasoline would increase from $4 per litre to $5.75 per litre effective today.
The last increase was in the 2008 budget presentation when it increased from $3 to $4.
When Newsday visited a few service stations in Port-of-Spain yesterday several motorists were filling up their tanks before the increase today. Gregory Preau described the increase as “terrible” and lamented that it will seriously affect his business. “I am a trader and I have to use my car all the time and now I have to go into my pocket a whole lot more and that can’t be good for my business. I now have to budget in that extra money ,” he said. A female driver, who did not want to give her name, said the increase was “madness” and could not understand the Government’s decision to raise the price. “Premium was already expensive and now I have to pay a whole $1.75 more. That is too much. When I spend $145 to full my tank it lasts three days, now I have to pay more. That is going to be difficult on my overall budget as I have other things to consider like food, this is really madness,” she said. She added that she will now have to consider switching from premium to super gasoline. Super is currently $2.70 a litre. Another motorist, who gave his name as Corey, said paying more for gas was going to be hard on his pocket. “I usually spend $180 to fill my tank for a week and that is already a stretch for me, so to pay more will be hard. All the extra stops that I used to make will have to stop because I won’t be able to afford it,” he said.
Corey said he could not switch to super like other drivers because it will affect the way his vehicle operates. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said persons who drive high-end vehicles, such as Audis and BMWs, would be the ones mostly affected. One driver disagreed noting that he drove a new model Nissan Wingroad and he could not switch to super as it would damage his vehicle. “I have no idea what she means by a high-end vehicle. My vehicle comes with brain boxes and sensors and if I were to use super it affects the sensors so I can’t make that switch,” he said.
Several drivers said they use premium in their vehicles, such as Honda, Toyota models. CEO of the United Independent Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (UNIPET), Ron Milford, said he was not sure whether the fuel subsidy would be impacted in a positive way with the increase in the premium price. He explained that those motorists who can switch to super gasoline will do so immediately. “Look at the disparity, super is $2.70 a litre so people who can will switch and it could have a negative effect on the subsidy,” he said.