Public won’t see gas price data

| 21/10/2015 | 28 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): The people will have to trust the word of Cabinet on the controversial question of gas prices because the data that will be collected by the chief petroleum inspector (CPI) on how much the bulk importers are really paying for fuel they bring in will be confidential. Minister Kurt Tibbetts said that only the CPI and Cabinet members will have access to any of the information that will be collected to enable government to assess whether or not the importers are being fair.

The amendments to the dangerous substances law presented by Tibbetts Thursday in the Legislative Assembly include changes addressing safety, quality and technical aspects of storing and importing oil, and introduce a clause to allow a more robust petroleum inspectorate to collect critical pricing data to lift the lid on the current secrecy over pricing structures. Government is hoping the information will also determine if allegations of collusion over pricing between the two bulk importers, Sol and Rubis, are true or not.

But there will be no full disclosure to the public over how the fuel importers are arriving at the wholesale prices that have led to the painful pump prices in Cayman despite the world decline in the price of oil this year. Nevertheless, Tibbetts said the amendments allowing the CPI to collect the necessary information would, without being “heavy handed”, get results.

Tibbetts, as the minister responsible for overseeing fuel, expressed his frustrations over the obstinacy of the fuel importers, who he said had tested the patience of government over the years. He said an independent assessment of commercial operations of the fuel suppliers was also underway, which would examine the supply chain, trade, economies of scale, the asset base, the pricing structure and profitability levels.

This and other efforts would “hopefully” allow government to come up with objective open and equitable solutions, he said. Despite the failure of the suppliers to cooperate with government to date over the pricing issue, Tibbetts said he was aiming for a viable and transparent fuel sector for all.

Once the law is passed, the CPI will be able to request the price for all fuel imported and sold by the bulk suppliers, their pricing methods, first costs, freight and insurance costs, brokerage and custom fees, estimates and quantity of the fuel in stock, as well as details of the next shipment of fuel. Any failure to comply will carry a $20,000 fine or a year in jail.

Tibbetts said he was confident this would bring “tangible results”, as he acknowledged the recent 14,000 signature petition and the desire for the public to see change. The minster said the law was not perfect yet but it was a first step that would help government come to grips with fuel prices and it would be improved upon as government learned what it needed to know. He urged members to offer ideas and comments because there would be a number of committee stage amendments.

Although the minister received support from the House, a number of issues were raised, including the bureaucracy and the low fines proposed. East End MLA Arden McLean said that given the suspected skulduggery on the part of the oil companies, the government “needed to play hard ball”.

Following the debate, Tibbetts told his colleagues that the bill would be amended and as a result the committee stage amendments were expected to be done during this week’s sitting.

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Category: Economy, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is just a distraction from the real reason the price of living in cayman is so high. CUC! I would love to see someone in government stand up to this monopoly that has no price regulation. Has anyone noticed that the prices at supermarkets are higher relative to hardware stores? This difference in directly related to the kilowatt consumption of each business. Supermarkets burn more current so their prices are high.

    Cuc is in the public’s wallet from they wake up till they go to sleep. Can we address this issue? Will CUC make a responsible transition to renewable energy? Not just those 4 panels they have infront of their office.

    • Anonymous says:

      You have got it exactly backwards. Contrary to what you believe, CUC’s rates are in fact regulated, but the largest component on your (and your supermarket’s) CUC bill is the fuel factor. CUC’s return is around 10% p.a. Do you have any idea what the returns of the fuel companies are? I thought not.

      • Anonymous says:

        Regulated by who? The CUC bill is laid out in a way to make it seem they aren’t ripping you off. In miami you get charged 10 cents per kilowatt hour. This includes the fuel they use to produce the electricity and they still make money. Cuc charges 10 cents per kilowatt hour then an additional fuel charge. That is crazy.

      • Anonymous says:

        They work around this “regulation” by stripping out the cost of their business and charging it to the customer. Then they charge the regulated 10 cent a kilowatt on top of that. Its funny accounting that most people don’t pick up on.

        So their 10 cent a kilowatt hour is all profit and i am sure they have a profit margin in this fuel charge as well. The people are paying to run the company and then they are fully charged for the service again. Its like you paying the costs to manufacture a car and then turning around and buying it for full price.
        Car cost 10,000 to manufacture and 20,000 to buy. You should only pay 20,000 to own the car. With the CUC business model you are paying 30,000 to own the car.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Could this information not be gathered from the Customs entry forms when they pay for the fuel duty? Maybe the two sets of information should be compared to ensure they are not lying on the entry forms also.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Keep filing FOI claims and sue for the information, then publish it in the media

  4. Anonymous says:

    ha, and the FOI law spirit goes out the backdoor…so much for that grand project. Only when it suits huh…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Trust the LA? LMFAO

  6. IMHO says:

    Well the Government doesn’t want us to know exactly how much of the high cost of fuel is directly attributable to the fees that they (the Govt) add to the cost. There is a much fairer way for government to get the revenue it requires to run this country.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful, I am glad they are not forced to disclose to the public….

  8. I am of the firm opinion that we will shortly be seeing the per gallon fuel prices drop by at least $1.50.
    However a holistic approach must be taken with regards to prices also coming down at our supermarkets, shipping companies, trucking companies etc…all those who will be impacted by any reduction in cost of fuel and its energy MUST also now be honest and transparent and also admit that the cost of living in these Cayman Islands can be LESS (as it ought to be!) by EVERYONE being much more responsible, honest and each playing their rightful role in ensuring that ALL THE PEOPLE; especially the LESS FORTUNATE and the MIDDLE CLASS can survive.
    PRICES in Cayman are marked up too high; across the board!

  9. Anonymous says:

    What a joke.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why should the information be private, what is been hidden here? This is not a game the advancement of this country is being held up because these people are been allowed to exploit this of money from us. We should close either Rubis or Sol down and the goverment should compete with the one left back.

    • Sissy says:

      Be careful what you wish for; don’t imagine for a minute that Rubis or Sol NEED us. They have made money here. We can only squeeze them so much. If we were to “close them down” do you think they’d return?

      I think you bring up a good point as to what is being hidden here. Could it be the vig that the government puts on gas? We’ve been told that in between $0.25 and $.075 per gallon is the government’s take. I’d like to see those numbers.

      Keep up the good fight.

      • Anonymous says:

        What?? What are you saying Sissy? That they shut down and we have no gas? There are plenty of others that would step right in. Rubis and Sol are not the only game in the Caribbean.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am going with 45c to CIG and 50c to the gas station per gallon.

  11. Fred says:

    Why doesn’t CIG use competition to control the price. CIG can import gas and sell it through the government pumps direct to the public at a mark up that clears their costs and adds a modest profit margin that would supplement CIG revenues. They already give it away free to anyone with a Gasboy card.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Apart from noting the gas prices at local gas stations what else does the Petroleum Inspector do?. Does he check the calibration of the pumps at the gas stations?, for I am always puzzled how I am charged for more gas than my tank holds (according to my manual which quotes in Imperial gallons).

  13. Anonymous says:

    Time to break-up the cartel. Pass a law prohibiting the oil companies from owning any interest in the retail operations and sale of fuel after 2020.

    If each gas station was individually owned, and the bulk fuel importers had to compete with each other to see who gets to supply them with fuel, then we would see competitive pricing.

    Until we have this competitive environment where the retail operators can set their own prices we will continue to pay the high price of collusion between the two major importers.

    • Anonymous says:

      The government of St. Maarten regulates the prices of petroleum products by imposing a maximum price at which wholesalers and retailers can sell these products on St. Maarten. A Complete price buildup is published. The CI Government should consider doing likewise.

      . http://sxmgovernment.com/2015/06/11/gas-prices-go-up-in-st-maarten-today/

      • Anonymous says:

        St. Maarten is a Dutch colony and therefore governed by social democratic politicians and we are having the US system where companies and big money rule the country.

        • Anonymous says:

          nope we don’t have a us system because they have something call anti trust which about 100 years ago shattered Standard oil (Amaco)- now BP into about 100 little pieces thus promoting competition. They still do it to this day although the airline industry is going towards this monopoly again and will likely be shattered at public outrage at some point in the next 10 years. EU did this to Microsoft a few years ago.

          Here they are hiding the figures because the oil companies are crying saying our competition will find out and that might attract them….uhhhh that’s the point…..nothing about the public here its the competition that they don’t want and that is sad that we give two hoots about the competition. Publish it and let more come in…and btw the assets left behind by ESSO and Texaco need to be replaced soon and is likely the reason why both wanted to come out of the market…

          Lastly, a good way around this all is called price gauge legislation. AG of NYC the American are very found of using this to “claw back” profits for the American people. I am sure Exxon (Esso) has a few billion in a Cayman account here and there and a swift move by the Gov’t to claw back these profits would be expected in any other jurisdiction esp USA>
          Conclusion, this is not the US system…maybe a hybrid of the bad stuff but with none of the protections. We don’t even have public interest law department. I believe the US employs a total of 5,000 lawyers state and federal specifically for consumer protect issues Cayman = none. n

  14. Anonymous says:

    don’t worry…. kurt is in charge……….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    btw where is the speed reduction on west bay road?

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