The biggest petroleum retailer in the country has chided the two-year old Keith Mitchell-led government in Grenada for the manner in which it announces the changes in petroleum prices at the pumps.
Businessman Edwin De Caul, Manager of Deco Industries 1990 Ltd., accused the administration of hampering with the success of private sector businesses on the island especially in the petroleum industry.
De Caul operates Gas Stations at Tempe in St. George and at Westerhall in St. David.
In an exclusive interview last week Thursday with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, the long-standing businessman said that he has suffered an “average of EC$6,000 in losses each time the gas price goes down” as government waits until the last minute to inform retailers of a change in petroleum prices.
According to De Caul the price of gas has dropped approximately three times for the year to the disadvantage of the retailers who had stocks at higher prices on their hand.
He holds the view that “we (petroleum dealers) have to know something when prices are going down because we have to keep fuel in the tanks – we cannot allow the tanks to go dry.”
He recalled that in the past, former Energy Minister, Gregory Bowen who is now back in office with the Mitchell administration, used to send out the price change three days before it would take effect “so that all the dealers would know what the price would be.”
“Those days were better,” lamented De Caul, who was quick to point out that “this has not happened since 2008.”
“The government itself, which is talking about the importance of businesses and the private sector in doing this and that, they are doing things that (are) hampering the private sector,” he declared.
De Caul also accused the “Ministry of Finance of not wanting to tell retailers anything about when the price is going up, how much it is and so on,” claiming that “they (government) want to keep it a secret, which is ridiculous.”
The businessman said it is his understanding that the Ministry does not want to reveal the change before it takes effect out of fear that “I would call the oil company and fill up my tanks. So I would make some extra money.”
He went on to express the view that government which collects EC$3.00 on each gallon of gas sold at the pump, “doesn’t understand is that if I make money I could give my workers an increase in pay, I would be paying government more taxes on all the revenue.”
De Caul said the situation is ridiculous because government would wait until 7.00 p.m the night before the change is to take effect to send out notification to the gas dealers via “email to say prices going up tomorrow and this is what it would be”.
“That is totally ridiculous”, the outspoken business operator told this newspaper.
He pointed to another gas station in the north of the island that had “their tanks filled up one afternoon and the gas price went down the next morning” and the company lost “approximately EC$15, 000” as a result.
There are reports circulating in the country that the ruling New National Party (NNP) government has taken legislation to Parliament to change the Petroleum Act to give the administration greater leverage in influencing the gas price at the pumps in order to raise more revenue to raise counterpart funds to pick start a number of stalled Capital Projects included in the 2015 Budget.