Stakeholders warn of impact of gas price on fish prices, construction costs and SMEs

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A fisherman brings his catch back to shore after removing it from his boat at Carenage Fishing Center on Saturday. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Rising fish prices, escalating construction costs and declining yields from petrol stations are among the expected effects of fuel price increases taking effect on April 19, stakeholders said on Saturday.

In the House of Representatives on Friday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced an increase in fuel prices. He said the price of premium gasoline and premium gasoline will be adjusted by $1 per liter to $6.75 and $5.97, respectively. The price of diesel will be increased by 50 cents to $3.91 per liter and the price of kerosene will be increased by $2, from $1.50 to $3.50 per litre.

As a result, fishermen say higher fish prices could become the norm if the price of diesel rises further.

A man who has been fishing for 30 years said he and other fishermen at the Cocorite Fishing Depot had already not caught enough fish to cover the cost of fuel, so the 50 cent increase was significant.

“We didn’t expect it but we have to take it because we still have a family in mind. It’s like you expect a certain amount in your salary and at the end of the month they just decide to cut it.

He explained that the waters of TT did not have the volume of fish as in previous years and there were many more boats in the waters so individual anglers were catching fewer fish. Plus they were burning a lot of fuel looking for live bait and then fish. In addition, they had to change the oil and filters in their engines every 300 hours, which cost around $1,500.

He said that since it was Easter and fish prices were high, around $50 a pound for kingfish and $45 for caritas, the increase would not affect them too much. However, once Easter is over and fish prices drop, they will no longer be able to earn a decent living.

“When gas goes up on April 19, people should expect fish prices to go up as well.”

Sean Phillip, a 24-year-old fisherman, said he and others at the Carenage Fishing Center spent $1,000 or more on gas on a fishing trip because they usually had to search for their catch.

“Petrol (diesel) continues to rise, but fish prices fluctuate. When Easter ends and prices drop, fishermen will be working at a loss. I mean, everyone sort of expected the (fuel price) increase but really, if it goes up again, a lot of anglers won’t survive.

He said it would be difficult for fishermen to raise their prices, not only because fish prices change with supply and demand, but because fish is perishable. As a result, fishermen had to sell their catches to vendors in a timely manner.

Unipet said raising prices without adjusting margins would affect the viability of its service stations.

In a statement, Unipet said it is waiting to see if the increases will impact its operations. “It is the detail that will determine the future survival of all our dealerships and ensure that our service stations remain open for business.”

He said that while hydrocarbons will remain the main transport fuel for the immediate future, Unipet has already begun the transition to renewable green energy, including the use of solar power at its Brentwood station and recharging units. practices for electric vehicles.

“Our greatest hope is that the government has heeded our recommendations for implementing a different pricing model that will ensure the market works in the best interests of everyone, especially our customers and consumers.”

On Saturday, a crew member fills a tugboat with diesel at the NP service station at the Island Property Owners Marina in Chaguaramas. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Horace Amede, president of the Inter-Isle Truckers and Traders Association, said that despite being aware of the global situation, he thought it was unreasonable for the government to raise fuel prices.

“A lot of transport vehicles are older and not achieving the kind of mileage they had before. Already people are using kerosene with their diesel to stretch the dollar.

He added that once fuel prices rise, the cost of almost everything else, including the cost of transporting and moving goods, will also rise, and “everyone in the country will feel the pressure”. .

Contractors Association president Glenn Mahabirsingh said its members were also anticipating some fuel price adjustments and expecting contractors to recalculate costs.

He said since the pandemic there had been a series of increases in all materials as well as shipping costs. And, since the war in Ukraine and the resulting oil price hikes, they have seen the price of bitumen rise. Now they are seeing an increase in diesel prices when diesel is used in the production and transportation of materials.

Since the cost of inputs had been so unpredictable in recent years, he called on the government to reinstate sub-clause 13.8 in state contracts, which would allow contractors to adjust their prices based on the evolution of costs.

“All these increases have been difficult for entrepreneurs. This way, business would be fair for both contractors and customers and contractors would not end up in a payout situation.

The acting president of the Sangre Grande Chamber of Commerce, Indra Sinanan Ojah-Maharaj, expressed her concern for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). She called on the government to deliberate on fiscal stimulus considerations and engage in discussions with the business sector to cushion and mitigate the impact of rising gasoline prices on the sector.

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