Pure wickedness. This was how Energy Minister Franklin Khan yesterday described rumours of an impending increase in the price of cooking gas.
“There is no plan by government to remove subsidies on cooking gas. We have no plans to increase it in the near future. I want to assure the public that they need not be worried about any immediate increase in the price of cooking gas,” Khan said. However, several supermarket owners and other businesses which retail cooking gas said they had been told informally that the price was expected to increase by the end of this week. But so far, they had not yet received any official word.
Khan called on people spreading the “false information” to stop, as it could cause unnecessary anxiety. He said he believed the rumours began after he addressed the issue of how much government spends to subsidise cooking gas to the local market, to the benefit of the people. Khan recalled that during his response to the 2018 budget, he said a 20-lb cylinder of gas costs $22, while in Jamaica it is five times that.
He said the total subsidy last year on LPG was $243 million. “Sometimes we bash Petrotrin a lot, but Petrotrin covers $167 million of that subsidy through the sale of LPG coming out of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery at a reduced price to wholesalers.
“So Petrotrin has to absorb $167 million. The subsidy on a 20-lb cylinder is $34 and you add $22 to that, making it $56. One hundred pounds is $172. This is the benefit the State is still accruing from the energy sector even as there is a reduction in the subsidy on diesel and super,” Khan said.