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Haiti : Worrying Oil Price Escalation on the National Market

Translated from French by Menno Ernst

Monday 4th June 2007

P-au-P, June 4, 2007 [AlterPresse] --- Since the first weekend of June 2007, the oil products (91- and 95-octane gasoline) have undergone a new considerable increase on the Haitian national market, therefore worrying the Haitian population who is already facing all kinds of socioeconomic problems, notices the online agency AlterPresse.

The price of gasoline 95, which is sold at gas stations for 173 gourdes (36,7553 gourdes=1 American dollar), has risen to 209 gourdes. Also gasoline 91 experiences a new augment at the pump, from 171 gourdes previously, to 205 gourdes now. And in stead of 103 gourdes, from now on gas oil will cost 109 gourdes, even though the price of kerosene (or also white gas, used by most households) remained stable.

These new prices, displayed at the gas pumps since the morning of Saturday 2nd June 2007, is creating misunderstandings among drivers and passengers who don’t agree on the raised price. Meanwhile they await a decision of the government authorities on the tariff of different chains.

This affects the different economic agents who expect multiplying effects on the prices of primary goods.

Monday 4th June 2007, seen the rise of prices, the transport vehicles have jointly revised their tariffs.

Certain users, who were not willing to pay the required amount, had to go by foot to reach their respective work places. Also owners of private cars have chosen other ways to go to their work.

« I prefer taking a tap-tap in stead of disbursing more than 200 gourdes to buy a gallon of gasoline », declares to AlterPresse a radio journalist, who was getting ready to go to work.

This colleague, who required anonymity, finds it necessary to pose the salary problem.

« I think this demonstrates the irresponsibility of our leaders. We, people from the press, should profit from this new increase to revive the national opinion on the problems related to the minimum salary », he continues.

In Haiti, a journalist earns about 5000 gourdes a month, or roughly 143 American dollars. This miserable salary, that a press worker gets, is not superior to that of other Haitian employees.

« I have been working in a private enterprise for five years and I earn around 4000 gourdes a month », explains a secretary interrogated by AlterPresse.

« With this new price increase of petrol products, I don’t know what to do anymore in order to live a decent life with my two children », she goes on.

It’s the same case for hundred thousands of students who go to school. These pupils, for the majority of a modest economic background, don’t even have the entire tariff claimed by truck-drivers.

« I go to school six days a week, sometimes I am not even able to buy me a bag of water », indicates a young university student.

On this 4th June 2007, this young lady of about twenty years had only 50 gourdes in her pocket, with which she had to pay two pick-up trips and her consummations during the rest of the day.

« Like you, I understand the circumstances. The state is the main responsible for this situation. I am ready to accept 12 and 13 gourdes from you. I will never take 10 gourds for the ride », tells a mini-bus drivers providing the trip Portail Léogâne (southern suburb of the capital) / Delmas 33 (north-eastern suburb).

The population already expects the growl of drivers who announce, for the coming days, protest actions to demand from the state arrangements to reduce prices of oil products on the national market, of which the current rate is not satisfying their daily payments, nor the wish of the passengers confronted with a difficult economic reality.

In addition to impacts on prices of primary goods, the augmentation of oil prices at the pump could equally have harmful effects on the ecological situation of the country. In Port-au-Prince and in the rest of the country, the majority of households continue to use charcoal. [do rc apr 04/06/2007 11 :30]