Curaçao’s fuel prices dropped by 25 Netherlands Antillean guilder cents (see related story) after both the applicable excise duties and OB sales tax were reduced. And – as reported in today’s paper – some 3,850 or 39 per cent of households in the so-called BES islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) are getting a one-time US $850 compensation for high energy costs.
It’s been a month since St. Maarten Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Roger Lawrence announced his plan to lower the excise on gasoline. He even said it would reduce government’s related revenue by about 14 per cent.
Granted, the minister has been on sick leave for a while, but back then specifically mentioned cooperating with his colleagues of Justice and Finance to make this happen. During last Wednesday’s press briefing Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs said a draft had already been circulating among the ministries and there was an update that morning she had not seen yet, while Legal Affairs also needed to give its response.
It was further explained that TEATT is leading in this matter. However, considering the urgency involved, surely it cannot be held up due to the minister in question being absent.
After all, the reason for having acting ministers is so they can replace each other when required. That certainly seems the case now with global oil prices still on the rise and fuel expected to go up even more in the coming period.
Relief to be offered will therefore merely soften the blow, but under current circumstances every little bit helps. If possible, it should at least be given before the next increase at the pump based on international developments, so that motorists notice the positive effect.
The impact of high prices is undoubtedly being felt throughout society and requires immediate action. Keep in mind that government is supposed to be a continuity.