NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Financial Secretary Simon Wilson said yesterday that everything is on the table, including tax relief and an adjustment of business license fees, to assist challenged petroleum dealers amid the high cost of gasoline.
The financial secretary said no decision has been made on any of the recommendations.
We want a permanent solution. We don’t want a bandaid where we do a quick fix here and two years from now or three years from now we are back here trying to figure out what is the right solution — SIMON WILSON
Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis and other senior government officials met with the association that represents those operators yesterday.
Another meeting has been scheduled for sometime next week, where the association is expected to bring more information to the government.
The cost of fuel, which has been set by oil suppliers, has soared well over $6, cutting into the reportedly slim margins of profit petroleum dealers make on gasoline.
During a briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister, Wilson said: “Retailers operate with a fixed margin in terms of fuel, so they get 54 cents for every gallon of fuel that is sold.
“And so, high prices really impact retailers in a very adverse manner.
“The prime minister has undertaken to look at the issue with the retailers.
“They are going to provide us with some more information in terms of what the options are available and hopefully within one week or so we will come and have a next meeting and finalize what type of support can be provided to the retailers without adversely impacting the public — the consumers of fuel.”
Petroleum retailers have a concessionary license rate, but the base rate is inflated when prices increase, according to Wilson.
Asked whether a tax reduction on gasoline had been considered, Wilson said retailers proposed the option during the meeting and “everything is on the table”.
“We have to balance the need for them to have a return on the business in comp to not impacting the public by pushing on [cost] as this is an environment of higher fuel prices,” the financial secretary said.
The Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association described Wednesday’s meeting as “very productive”, and suggested that motorists won’t have to worry about stations closing anytime soon.
Retailers had previously suggested that a lockout could come this Easter weekend if their concerns are not addressed.