Trinidad's Opposition Leader Joins UNC Supporters in Protesting Fuel Price Increases

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says she intends to raise as a matter of urgent public importance in Parliament on Wednesday, the government’s recent announcement of an increase in fuel prices.

kamlaBIKamla Persad-Bissessar joins UNC supporters in protesting fuel price increase.The one dollar (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) per liter increase in fuel prices went into effect as of mid-night on Monday and Persad Bissessar, speaking at a protest march organized by her United National Congress (UNC) in Debe, south of here, said she would raise the matter as well as the crime situation in the Parliament.

“This past weekend has been a most murderous one, mayhem and crime. Thirteen and counting. So we are protesting about sky rocketing crime.

‘Tomorrow we meet in Parliament and we shall be raising as matters of urgent public importance, the hike in the fuel prices, and we will also be raising the increasing skyrocketing in crime and no policies or programs”

She told supporters that Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who left here on Tuesday for Barbados for talks with senior United States officials, was engaged in a price of evading questions that would be put to him during the Prime Minister\s question time in the Parliament.

“What does the Prime Minister do on this day? He jumps on a plane …and gone Barbados. Tomorrow when we meet in Parliament it is supposed to be Prime Minister’s questions, we have the questions for him, but he duck and run to evade. And that’s not the first time…when we have a change to have Prime Minister’s questions and whatever chance that fellar gets he runs, he doesn’t want to answer you the people,” the Opposition Leader said.

Opposition legislator Dr. Roodal Moonilal told the UNC supporters that the increase in fuel prices will have a multiplier effect and “everything will go up because of the price increase.

“This is a direct result of the closure of the we now have to import with scarce foreign exchange fuel to be used in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said, in direct reference to the government’s decision to close down the loss-making oil refinery of  the state-owned PETROTRIN company two years ago.

Last week, the Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced an increase in fuel prices even as it acknowledged that it is cognizant of the effect it will have on consumers.

Imbert told Parliament that the adjustments in fuel prices were being made on the basis of factors such as the effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine of international oil prices.

“The government is cognisant of the effect of an increase in the price of fuel on consumers, notwithstanding the fact that a fuel subsidy is a regressive measure.

“The government is of the view that the liability for any fuel price adjustment should be shared more or less equally. The public should be asked to pay half the cost of the increased market prices of fuel, while the Government absorbs the other half of the increased cost.”

Imbert told legislators that there should be a partial adjustment of the prices of motor fuels, “not to the full market prices, but sufficient to allow an equal distribution of the cost.”

As a result, the prices of premium gasoline and super gasoline will be adjusted by one Trinidad and Tobago dollar (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) per liter to TT$6.75 and TT$5.97 respectively, while the price of diesel will be adjusted by TT$0.50 cents per liter to TT$3.91 per liter.

The government said the cost of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) will remain fixed at TT$21 for a 20-pound cylinder of cooking gas for domestic customers, while the price of kerosene will be adjusted to TT$3.50 per liter which is little over half the true market price.

Apart from the UNC, the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) has announced plans to stage a rally against the price increase and has been urging the government to rescind the new policy.