The Minister of Economic Affairs appeared at a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister on Thursday where he addressed several issues. Among them was the ongoing negotiations between the government and the Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association.
Sen. Hon. Michael Halkitis told members of the media, “we’ve been having this discussions for many months and the government last year provided tax rebates to the tune of $6 million to the retail petroleum dealers, five and a half million in cash and half a million as offset to some of the taxes that were owing. So we have made an effort to help to ease their burden and give them some support to give them some breathing room. And we would hope that, well we know that that helped. Its a difficult situation for all and it would just be not in for us to consider raising prices at the pumps at this time.”
The Minister says the government wants to continue discussions with petroleum retailers. “Its not a simple solution as give a margin increase that will increase the price for everybody or take the tax off of diesel or whatever which only means that the government’s revenue will fall short and you have to go borrow the money to fill up the gap. So there’s some proposals going back and forth. We continue to discuss them. Its a very difficult situation and so that is why the Prime Minister would say we continue to talk, exchange proposals, see how we can help,” Halkitis said.
This week petroleum dealers announced the halt in the sale of diesel which they reconsidered the next day. Gas station operators have been lobbying the government for an increase in the fixed profit margin rate.