March 30, 2006 P-au-P, [AlterPresse] --- Petrol (91 and 95 octane fuel) have gone up in price by more than 10%, according to consumers in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
From 159 gourdes last week, 91 octane fuel is now 179 gourdes per gallon, while 95 octane fuel increased yesterday from 165 gourdes to 184 gourdes per gallon (US$1.00 = approximately 45 gourdes).
The prices of diesel (used by the majority of public transport vehicles) and of kerosene (used for domestic lighting in the majority of the country’s households) did not change, remaining respectively 109 and 110 gourdes per gallon, according to AlterPresse’s observations.
Already, taxi drivers, who use petrol fuel (95 and 91) have begun to have difficulties with passengers who do not want to pay 25 gourdes instead of 20, which is the current official tariff.
This new price rise for petrol is worrying some economic analysts who expect knock-on effects on the prices of essential goods.
The interim government has not said a word about the new prices, nor has it indicated any measures to be taken to lower the ever increasing cost of living. Nothing has been heard of the search for alternatives that would include the apparent possibility of joining the PetroCaribe oil agreement concluded between Venezuela and approximately ten Caribbean countries, or an arrangement with Trinidad and Tobago which has its own oil refineries.
An arrangement was also considered with Mexico, another oil-producing country, without any information being made available to Haitian consumers.
The new rise in petrol prices comes at one time when the country is facing a shortage of electricity supply, particularly in the Haitian capital.
In an interview with AlterPresse on March 27, 2006, one of the leaders of the Collective of Social Organizations Fighting Against the High Cost of Living, the academic, Yves Barthélemy, stressed that this increase will penalize households and in particular the poorest ones.
The lecturer at the State University recommends the formation of a commission composed of two representatives of the social sector, two from the private sector, two for the trade union sector, and one representative of the incoming government, to decide on the issue in the interests of all Haitians.
Yves Barthélemy pointed out that the Collective had suggested this measure in a letter sent to the president-elect, René Préval, on 21 March 2006. The Collective is still waiting for a reply from the future tenant of the Presidential Palace.
The Collective links the presence of representatives of employers’ associations at the side of Rene Préval at the time of his recent Latin American tour to Haitian employers’ desire to benefit from the PetroCaribe programme of Hugo Chavez’s government. [rc ca apr 30/03/06 10:00]
(Translated from French by Charles Arthur for the Haiti Support Group)