Norton rubbishes Jagdeo’s dismissal of gas subsidy

Last Updated on Monday, 20 June 2022, 21:45 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Monday said a government subsidy on gasoline was being provided by both oil and non-oil producing countries an so all that Guyana has to do is to allocate some of the extra earnings from oil exports to stabilise the price at the pumps.

“It should come from the extra money. Remember, we pointed out that the oil prices went up and so you are gaining more and the difference between the oil price at the time and now; that difference, as I understand it, is enough to be able to subsidise the cost of living  especially as it relates to oil which will affect many products outside of oil itself,” he told a news conference.

Government had on January 26, 2022 estimated in its National Budget that the oil price was expected to average US$74 per barrel this year, but statistics show that the average Brent price per barrel of crude was US$86.51 in January; US$97.13 in February; US$117.25 in March; US$104.58 in April and US$113.34 in May. Brent crude was Monday trading at US$114.13 per barrel.

The Guyana government has already decided to subsidise the cost of electricity and water.

Reacting to Mr. Jagdeo’s assertion that Mr. Norton’s idea amounted to “cake-shop economics”, the Opposition Leader highlighted that Mexico is using some of its oil revenues to subsidise gas and the cost of living and Antigua and Barbuda, without oil, has a similar system in place.

Antigua and Barbuda is subsidising fuel for fisherfolk and bus owners.

Mr. Norton questioned whether Mr. Jagdeo, a Russian-trained Economist, was indeed an economist because he had presided over several failed projects and low economic growth during his presidency. “You name it , the man is a complete failure and so he is no qualified to even say he is an economist,” he said.

Gas prices in Guyana continue to increase, and government has already said there was nothing more that could be done at this time to ease the gas price woes. “Three thousand dollars gas does just give a little tick on the meter,” a taxi driver told Demerara Waves Online News. Some roadside taxis are charging as much as GY$700 for a short drop while taxi services are still charging GY$400 for short drops.