Harold Lovell, Political Leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP) and former Minister of Finance, is rejecting as “another big lie” the assertion that there was a hike in fuel prices in 2014.
Cabinet Notes published today, March 17, claim that the UPP Administration, in 2014, increased the price of fuel at the pumps in an effort to “increase tax yield,” adding that “there was no global crisis” at the time.
But Lovell denies this statement, calling it an “outright fabrication.”
The last increase under the UPP was in 2011– to $14.99 per gallon – and this was eventually reduced to $13.50. Between 2011 and 2014, Lovell explains, the price of oil on the world market fluctuated between US$100 and US$124 per barrel.
Accordingly, he notes, the average consumption tax collected by the Spencer Administration during that period was $26 million a year.
Collections between 2009-2014, Lovell’s tenure as Finance Minister, are confirmed as follows:
2009: $34 million
2010: $45 million
2011: $36 million
2012: $21 million
2013: $23 million.
It has been widely argued that, even when the cost of oil dropped below US$30 a barrel on the international market, the retail price under the Antigua Labour Party Government remained unchanged.
This enabled the Browne Administration to consistently rake in, on average, $65 million a year in consumption taxes, with a high of $80 million in 2016. Pundits say the Administration was collecting as much as $6 on every gallon of fuel sold.
Reports say the Browne Administration collected more than $64 million in 2019 and $79 million in 2020, on account of the very low prices on the international market.
“And yet,” Lovell says, “the cost of fuel at the pumps in Antigua and Barbuda remained the same.”
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