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Prices for LPG reset at level of December 2014

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PHILIPSBURG-- The Ministy of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic, and Telecommunications (TEATT) on Wednesday reset the prices for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), or cooking gas, to the price level of December 2014.

This means that LPG gas cylinders of 20 pounds once again carry a retail price of NAf. 38 and a consumer price of NAf. 42. Cylinders of 100 pounds are now priced NAf. 139.04 (retail) and NAf. 153 for consumers. The prices for bulk LPG were reset at NAf. 1.51 per pound for both retailers and consumers.

The change in prices is a direct result of a Court order of June 30, following on injunction filed by Tropigas SXM N.V, against the Minister's decision of February 22, to decrease the prices for LPG by approximately fifty percent.

The Judge in the Court of First Instance ordered Government to repeal its decision of February to decrease the maximum prices for 20 pound cylinders of LPG from NAf. 42 to NAf. 21.73, for 100 pound cylinders from NAf. 153 to NAf. 112.96, and for bulk loads from NAf. 1.51 per pound to NAf. 0.97.

The price adjustments were announced in the local newspapers. Government stated at the time that "due to ongoing developments at an international level the prices of crude oil experienced adjustments," therefore the local prices for cooking gas were also adjusted.

Tropigas ' shareholders objected to the drastic decrease in prices for LPG, a decision which was not made in consultation with the suppliers.

Minister of TEATT Ingrid Arrindell confirmed to Tropigas that the reduction was "huge", but the Economic Affairs Department had stated there had been no price reduction for LPG "for a while now" and had therefore, recommended the considerable decrease.

Minister Arrindell confirmed that the advice to reduce the price for LPG was not made in consulation with the suppliers nor with the Council of Ministers, which did not have the opportunity to peruse the advice, which, in her absence had been signed off by Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Emil Lee.

Suppliers feared that the reduction would have a negative impact on their revenues as they would be incurring a loss.

During a meeting with the civil servants of Ministry TEATT, the four companies selling LPG in St. Maarten requested the new pricing structure be suspended, or allow for a price increase of at least 25 percent of the new price levels.

A price adjustment was made on June 18, in which the price for LPG was increased by 10 cents per pound.

In the injunction the Court establised that Government did not have full insight into the cost structue of LPG suppliers on St. Maarten. "This means that Government has lowered the prices without taking into account what effect the 50 percent reduction would have on LPG suppliers and especially for those who are only selling LPG cooking gas," the Court stated.

It was also established that Government had made a hasty decision and had failed to consult with suppliers.

Article - Courtesy of The Daily Herald

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