Fuel law changes include price data collection

| 25/09/2015 | 25 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Proposed amendments to the law which deals with the importation of fuel will allow the chief petroleum inspector to collect information from importers relating to fuel prices and pricing methods. It also establishes a Fuel Standards Committee, which will be responsible for setting and publishing those standards. As government moves towards controlling fuel prices in the Cayman Islands in the face of what appears to be price gouging by the bulk fuel suppliers, the amendment bill is the first step towards a more rigorous and transparent regime.

In the face of stubbornly high gas prices at the local pumps, despite the significant fall in oil prices around the world, government has been warning importers for many months that unless they start being more transparent over how they arrive at pump prices, the administration would examine price controls.

Question marks remain over how much government already knows about fuel prices, however, as invoices are submitted to the Customs Department when fuel is imported, although duty is calculated by the importers at the pump.

A freedom of information request that was made to customs for those invoices and refused is currently the subject of a hearing by the acting information commissioner, which may, if disclosure is ordered, reveal for the first time how much mark-up the bulk fuel suppliers Sol and Rubis are making on the fuel they are selling to the Cayman consumer.

Amendments to the The Dangerous Substances Handling and Storage (Amendment) Bill, 2015 are scheduled to be debated in the Legislative Assembly next month and the bill is now available for public review.

As well as legislating for the collection of price data and setting standards, the bill which will now be known as the dangerous substance law, as it will go beyond handling and storage, provides for fuel companies to be fined up to $20,000 if they don’t provide information relating to the costs of freight, insurance, brokerage fees, custom duties, as well as the quantities and type of fuel in stock and details of the next expected shipment.

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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Are you serious?! $20K is nothing when you are making millions price gouging. It would be worth it to pay the fine.

  2. Anonymous says:

    So we saw a drop of 20 cents or so at the pump this week,..usual effect, you get a few shouts in the press about high gas prices, next week you see a token cut, couple of weeks later it drifts up a couple of cents, then a couple more, then back to where we started, all with a steady oil price. Go figure.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why not just go.for full regulation as who is gonna make sure that the 20 K gets paid….the biggest question is why government of the.Cayman islands does not have a public interest law office like.many.US states.to protect.consumers. Also, no AG office.to.go after price gouging.and fine retrospectively ….these things.would give fibre to our laws and.legal.systems.but.we.never.create them so.our.judicial system remains only.for.the.rich…Thanks for.reading.and.keep.up the.fight and political.be warned of.the.rise.of.the far right.and left signs.the.punch.party.of.yore is.ending

    • Your conscience says:

      Instead of trying to control free markets, ( communist approach) allow for and encourage competition. Also, Government has the possibility of going out to the market and buying fuel at a cheaper price and reselling to the stations at a cheaper price; of course this would entail bulk storage which could be handled by private company. There are various aus to handle the present monopolistic environment it just takes knowledge of the market and political will, not political control.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Also, Government has the possibility of going out to the market and buying fuel at a cheaper price and reselling to the stations at a cheaper price;” the same communist approach as you call it. Definitely not competition.

        Also even most prominent capitalist economists understand that in situations with monopoly and quasi-monopoly price regulation is needed to ensure customers rights are protected. And they also understand that price collusion among suppliers (which is most likely happening in CI) must be punished by huge fines.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Praise the Lord, finally some rumblings of justice.There’s been a lot of funny business going on here, for sure. Will we all, finally, get to the bottom of what might reasonably be viewed as a scam?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ask MLA osbourne bodden about fuel prices, he owns a gas station and can tell you exactly what the breakdown of the price at the pump is. So the fact that the government doesn’t know is BS.

    • Caymanian says:

      He will only know what they charge him not what the cost was at import.

    • Shhhhhhhh. says:

      Customs duty has for a long time been paid on the VOLUME not the landed cost, so only the importer knew what the actual landed cost was. Minister Bodden would therefore not be privy to the costs as a retail contractor.

  6. George Ebanks says:

    This is but the start of what will finally get the PEOPLE of these Cayman Islands real market driven prices!

    Currently our gasoline fuel prices are done by our two fuel importers- Sol Petroleum and Rubis- based solely on which direction the “wind is blowing”!
    Please of these beloved Cayman Islands, please plan to come in in your large numbers to the planned march to be held on the morning of Oct. 14th starting at 9:30am from the lawns of the “old glass house” and proceeding to the steps of the LA to be met by the Hon. Premier and the entire Cabinet.

    Yes, we can do this! Yes! We can and WILL have lower gasoline fuel prices soon.

    To God be all praise.

    • Anonymous says:

      George, you appear to have appointed yourself as the public voice on petrol pricing. Good for you and thank you for doing so.
      Now, help the consumers of Grand Cayman achieve the fair pricing at the pump that they deserve. Here is a tried and proven method to make the retailers sit up and listen.
      As of next Friday, every one buys their gas from Esso only for the next two weeks and shame on anyone who goes against the grain. For the following two weeks everyone buys from Texaco exclusively. And so on until the retailers are brought to reality pricing and everyone wins.
      FYI, the price of regular gas in New York yesterday was averaging about US$ 2.45. per gallon. In imperial gallons that would be US$ 2.94 and NY is probably one of the highest priced for gas in the USA.
      All the marching and chanting in the world won’t convince Minister Ossie Bodden to drop his prices, but marching with your bankcard WILL.

      • Caymanian says:

        Ozzie is the small end of the problem. The fuel gets sold to him already high. The issue is at importers.

    • Anonymous says:

      George, thank you for your initiative. Please now also focus on supermarket prices and why they are so high?

  7. Anonymous says:

    This amendment needs to include clauses for annual pump and holding tank certification and routine fuel quality testing by the inspectorate – paid for by the retailers. The retailers are currently allowed to sell whatever quality they want, sourced from wherever they like, from whatever they want to hold it in. Rust, Sea Water, Fresh Water, sand and other gunk are being pumped into the public’s vehicles – but the inspectorate report of 2013 (that we paid for) won’t specify who the offenders are. That’s a big consumer problem that shouldn’t be glossed over.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve been to different gas stations at the exact time my low gas lights up and have had quite different amounts of gallons recorded. I’m not sure if the pump can be rigged to benefit the gas station, but it is odd. I also find that when I fill up at one gas station, my car is harder to start in the AM, than when I fill at another, so I’m sure that has to so with the gunk in the holding tanks. If I’m not mistaken, shouldn’t gas holding tanks be upgrades every so often? 10-20years? Haven’t noticed any stations doing that?

      • Anonymous says:

        Published 8th April 2014, 10:7am

        The Cayman Islands Chief Petroleum Inspector Duke Munroe has called for “much needed regulation of fuel quality standards” as he published his final report today on last year’s inspection. Although the investigation didn’t uncover any very significant cases of fuel adulteration or contamination the findings highlight the need for a number of measures to address the problems that were found. Following complaints about fuel quality the inspectorate went into the field and while analysis indicates that the baseline parameter of the fuel meets standard test criteria the inspector has raised a number of concerns and offered solutions.

        Officials said that the planning ministry is preparing to begin work on the recommendations in the report which include establishing a committee to develop fuel quality standards, random sampling, fast track regulations and policies on quality and a formal complaint process.

        The results of the investigation were not indicative that the quality of fuel on the market was questionable but the inspector said there is the possibility of fuel being imported of varying standard and composition which could have negative impact on customer vehicles.

        “Absence of Regulation leaves an open door on the issue and because of the complex nature of fuel quality issues, the Oil companies simply cannot be coerced into complying with fuel standards unless a comprehensive approach is taken to address such an issue, backed by legislation,” he said.

        “Importers of fuel for consumption have a moral obligation to ensure the quality is acceptable and should make the public aware of any peculiarities of their fuel without having to divulge truly sensitive competitive information,” Munroe said. “This requirement is further reinforced by the fact that liability for issues related to their fuel quality in most instances, remains with the primary importer.

        Overall, the fuel boss said that despite the limitations, the exercise produced useful findings and valuable data/information which is essential for renewed discussion in the area of fuel quality, and ultimately to develop a framework to address this issue going forward.

        He said that information flow from the industry to government and the public continues to be a factor of importance in addressing issues of general nature and was evident during this exercise.

        “This is consistent across the entire sector and not only the two entities which were central to the investigation,” he said of Esso and Rubis. “Information, in many cases, basic non-proprietary information was difficult to obtain, which in a weak regulatory environment such as exists in the petroleum sector, can only be addressed by well-defined regulations. The impact of this shortcoming was managed during the exercise, however from a public awareness standpoint, it does need improvement.”

      • Anonymous says:

        or the gunk in your gas tank from letting it continually empty. that is what causes your fuel pump to clog. If you read your owners manual it will tell you to avoid letting your tank run empty to prevent natural buildup in your tank.

        • Brac thinker says:

          Hope the gas prise fall in the Brac like they will fall in Grand, for the Brac is another ball game. In fact the price should be lower in tbe Brac, because Grand pays .75 cents duties to Government per gallon and the Brac retailers pay only .12-1/2 cents.

        • Caymanian says:

          Technically that’s not what is meant. The light coming on does not mean “empty” it means it is low and you have roughly 25-50 miles of gas remaining in the tank. The owners manual refers to complete empty. So because his/her light came on don’t mean she did anything to create the issue. If they said the vehicle ran out of gas YES they now have potentially created problems.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, in 2013 the Fuel Inspectorate did not test private vehicles’ tanks. Their report (*.pdf link now removed from Planning website) tested the actual retailer pumps. Some of the tanks contained sea water (probably residual from Ivan), rust and other crap. CNS: can you ask why this report was removed?

      • Anonymous says:

        Seems you’ve got quite a lot of research going on here, friend, and thanks for sharing. But I wonder about the objectivity of it all when all said and done. Doesn’t appear very scientific, you know?

    • @1:11pm. The new laws does include what you mentioned.
      It has teeth!

    • Anonymous says:

      There will be regulations to deal with quality of gas etc. Soon come

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