Fuel signs coming

Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts has announced that in a nod to consumers, the Government plans to require gasoline retailers to post the price of their fuel in visible locations.

The move comes on the heels of a number of discussions Mr. Tibbetts had while attending the 3-6 July CARICOM conference in St. Kitts and Nevis.

Mr. Tibbetts remarked the conference provided the opportunity to learn about how other Caribbean nations have been handling the challenges associated with rising fuel and energy costs.

‘Global fuel prices are out of our hands, but there are some ways we can try to mitigate them here,’ he said.

‘One easy and important thing that can be done to promote competitive pricing is to require gas stations to post their prices in a way that gives passing motorists a chance to see the price before they drive up to the pump,’ he said.

‘This is done in many other jurisdictions and we feel it will be an effective way to regulate retail prices here as well.’

Mr. Tibbetts questioned current practices that leave motorists in the dark about price differences – which can vary from 25 cents a gallon from station to station – until they drive up to the pump.

Mr. Tibbetts said the Government has rejected such initiatives as taking over the bulk purchase and storage of fuel from the private sector, or creating a regulatory body controlling fuel prices.

Mr. Tibbetts remarked that in at least five other Caribbean jurisdictions with pricing regulations, fuel prices are higher than in the Cayman Islands, and the Government was not interested in going into the business of supplying fuel.

He also rejected slashing fuel import duties, saying that while it would significantly affect a lucrative revenue source, the cost savings would not be passed down to the consumer.

‘Cutting duties to realize a 20 million dollar revenue loss makes no sense when consumers would only see a five cent drop in pump prices, if that,’ he said.

Mr. Tibbetts said that in the interest of transparency, the Government has met with one of the Island’s fuel suppliers, and plans to meet with the other soon, in order to determine an agreed-upon method to demonstrate the fairness of fuel prices to the public.

Looking to the future, Mr. Tibbetts said that, like other Caribbean nations, the Cayman Islands Government would be looking into alternative energy sources, and that they would be taking any reasonable actions on that front as well.