By Steve Thomas

Nevis Observer Editor

(Charlestown, Nevis) – Rising oil prices have prompted the Nevis Island Administration to approve a price increase for cooking gas that took effect on June 1, according to officials.

The government will continue to subsidize cooking gas to keep it as affordable as possible for all Nevisians.

The announcement was made by Minister of Trade, Hon. Hensley Daniel, in a televised address on May 30.

“After careful consideration and mindful of the need to protect the consumer, particular those in the low income bracket of these run away oil prices, the Nevis Island Administration has decided on the following increases. As of June 1, 2008 a 100 pound cylinder will move from $140 to $160 and the 20 pound cylinder will move from $30 to $35.

“It is absolutely important to note that the Nevis Island Administration will continue to subsidize each 100-pound cylinder by at least $80 and the 20-pound cylinder by at least $16,” he said.

Mr. Daniel compared prices of domestic gas throughout the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States and concluded that most of the countries paid more than Nevis.

“A comparison of cooking gas prices in the OECS is useful so that consumers can understand the rational behind the increase. In Anguilla the 100-pound cylinder goes for $220. In Antigua $108, in Dominica $215, in Grenada $216.55, in Montserrat $145 in St. Kitts and Nevis $140, St. Lucia $210, St. Vincent and the Grenadines $ 173.50. [This] suggests to us that the only other OECS country that sells a 100-pound cylinder of LPG or cooking gas for less than St. Kitts and Nevis is Antigua where it is retailed at $108,” he said.

“The 20-pound Cylinder in Anguilla sells for $59, in Antigua $ 20.95 in Dominica $44.10, in Grenada $43.81, in Montserrat $ 29 in St. Kitts and Nevis $30 in St. St Lucia $33 and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines $37. Again it shows that most of these countries pay more for the 20 pound cylinder than the consumers in St., Kitts and Nevis,” he said.

Mr. Daniel called for the support and understanding of the public, given the inability to hold down the price of oil on the world market.

“I crave the support and the indulgence of the public given the inability of the NIA to hold down the price of oil in the international market…I look forward to the support of the public and the understanding of the public in this matter,” he said.

The former NIA government had granted an increase in domestic gas in February 2005 and that increase resulted in the sale of 100 pound cylinder for $140 and a 20 pound cylinder for $30, Mr. Daniel said.

Since that increase the price of oil had moved from US$51.57 per barrel to US$133 per barrel, he said.