Govt’s role in keeping fuel prices under control


The Ministers of Finance and Energy have already stated that Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd will supply fuel to the two wholesalers (NP and Unipet) at the market price (plus profit to Paria). The wholesalers will supply the dealers who are free to determine the price they will sell to the consumers.

Most critics seem to feel that a cartel of dealers will be formed to control this final price. Some argue that the “mythical” one-percenters will play the leading role in this (I will return to this later).

As far as I can see, the main policy decision (privatisation) has already been taken by the Government and instead of arguing uselessly against it, suggestions should be made to mitigate its negative effects.

1. I would like to humbly suggest that no dealer (conglomerate or otherwise) should be allowed to control more than ten per cent of gas stations.

2. Care should be taken to ensure that people (whether shareholders or directors) of such companies do not hold such positions in more than one company.

3. Just as the Government sets a retail margin to the dealers at present, I do not see why it cannot set a maximum retail price allowing for a reasonable profit to the dealers.

Now about the one-percenters. I refer to it as a “myth” for the following reasons. Many people feel that this term refers to our Syrian-Lebanese community and this has not been helped by a few of its members who have made foolish statements which have supported this belief (fortunately, they have apologised).

However, I would like to point out that many of our billionaire businessmen, property owners, supermarket and hardware owners, doctors and lawyers (check it out for yourself) belong to another ethnic group.

On a personal level, I remember travelling to the US on several occasions and in passing through the first class section to get to my economy class seat, and I soon realised that almost all the first class seats were occupied by people of this ethnic group. On one occasion, I remember the only two people of a different extraction on one flight was Wendy Fitzwilliam and her son.

So, when I hear certain people arguing that the Government is favouring the one-percenters, I just shake my head and wonder which one per cent they are referring to.

I have no problem with anyone of any creed or race seeking to better themselves. But I think it is time that the hypocrisy of demonising a small section of our population for our problems should stop and we should all pull ourselves up by our boot straps and seek out the opportunities that are undoubtedly there for all of us.