Over the past few months there has been a consistent drumbeat from the Minister of Trade and Industry demonising the oil companies and their dealers by suggesting that their profit margins are too high and this is detrimental to Bahamian consumers.
Who is gouging whom?
Of course no mention is made of reducing the taxes applied to a gallon of gasoline. An oil company executive has confirmed that government taxes are $1.06 per gallon plus 7% Stamp Tax. The point being made by the Minister of Trade is the suppliers and dealers are gouging consumers with their respective $0.33 and $0.44 per gallon mark up.
By doing the math it is obvious that Government taxes are three (3) times as much as the suppliers and approximately two (2) times higher than the station owner’s! This begs the question of who is gouging whom?
Amazingly the dealers are honest?
If this is not enough, The Ministry of Trade and Industry has recently acquired a “calibrating device” “to help motorists determine whether they are getting value for money” as reported by the Nassau Guardian on Saturday, June 5, 2004.
The story went on to state that “amazingly instead of finding that consumers were getting less gas for their money, they were actually getting just a little more.”
Well what do you know, the gas dealers are not the demons the Ministry of Trade would have the country believe.
How much gas is served?
The article also suggested that; “At present there is no way of telling whether you are getting the amount of gas you are paying for, you just have to trust the metres (hic) at the pumps.”
These comments are not specifically identified as those of the Minister or his Deputy Permanent Secretary, but the situation is absolutely the contrary. It is very easy for people to determine whether they are actually getting the gas the meters record. Every vehicle has a gas tank and a gas gauge. Reading most owner’s manuals and then working the simple equation if the vehicle requires a quarter tank or half tank etc easily helps determine how much gas is served.
So, to suggest there is some mystery in determining the amount of gas one receives is simply misleading.
Protection, Intimidation or Public Relations?
In the final analysis, these comments suggest that the Ministry is trying to intimidate the gas industry and promote a favourable public image instead of truly protecting the consumer.