The price of oil on the world market is at its lowest in 13 years. The world market price was under US$30 per barrel earlier in the year, down from the record high of US$110 per barrel a few months ago. It is moving upwards again. Indeed the high fuel prices forced the prices of ancillary products to skyrocket.
In Guyana, as the price of oil rose on the world market so did the cost of fuel and fuel products in Guyana. Eventually the cost of transportation went up because the operators of public transport pressed the government to allow them to raise the fares. Their argument was that spare parts and tyres had become expensive as the price of oil went up.
What Guyanese noted, too, was that the electricity company would trot up the charges. It included one called energy charge to compensate for the rise in energy costs. Private motorists also complained because the gas stations raised their prices because of what they said were acquisition costs.
Today, the converse is the reality; gasoline prices have plummeted. The world price for a barrel of oil is 75 per cent lower than it was this time last year. Needless to say, the government is reaping a harvest. It is spending less money on oil so that the cost of running the electricity generating systems is drastically lower than a year ago.
The world is aware of the lower oil prices; Guyana is also aware as it is aware of the falling gasoline prices in the United States.
This has not been the case in Guyana; the gas companies have not been as quick to pass on the reduction in acquisition costs with the result that Guyanese are still paying an inordinately high cost for gasoline and dieseline. The result is that there are mutterings about the government holding on to its windfall.
Surprisingly, this has not been made a political issue but there is a movement pushing for the government to slash gasoline and dieseline prices. It is as though the Guyana Government is enjoying the increased savings given that gold prices have hit rock bottom; rice is earning less than it did at this time last year; and bauxite is all but dead.
However, if the truth be told despite the lower oil prices many countries are paying much more than Guyana for gasoline and dieseline. Venezuela, an oil-producing country, has the cheapest fuel in the world—about G$20 per gallon or 45 times cheaper than gasoline in Guyana.
Trinidad, another oil producing country is retailing gasoline at a cost slightly lower than Guyana.
The United Kingdom, a country far more developed than Guyana can hope to be in 200 years is retailing gasoline at US$6.69 a gallon. In countries like Spain, Bangladesh, Austria, New Zealand, Singapore and France the cost of gasoline is higher than it is in Guyana.
There can therefore be no claim of a government seeking to reap a windfall at the expense of the people. There must be other factors. Most of these countries are producers of cars, electronic goods and household articles. The export of these products reaps huge revenues on which these countries turn. Guyana is not in such an enviable position.
Even when oil flowed from Venezuela this country was paying a high price because Venezuela, while giving away its fuel at home, was prepared to earn from its trade with Guyana, not that this country did not benefit from the trade with its neighbour.
Of interest is that despite the low price of oil on the world market Hong Kong is retailing gasoline at US$8.20 a gallon ($1,640 per gallon), and the Netherlands, US$7:50 a gallon ($1,500 per gallon.)
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