Government announces ‘marginal’ reduction of fuel pump prices

By Mustapha Jallow and Kebba Jeffang
A press release from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, aired on GRTS Fuel Pump Prices Increase(state) television on Friday, 29 January indicate the marginal reduction of the pump prices of petrol, diesel and kerosene to 8.5%, 12.4% and 14.0% respectively.

According to the press release, the Government of The Gambia, after reviewing the decline of the global oil prices to under US$30 per barrel, has considered it necessary to reduce the domestic pump prices in order to “transfer the gains of falling global prices to consumers and citizens”.

“In light of this, the Ministry is hereby informing the general public that domestic pump prices of PMS (Petrol), AGO (Diesel) and KEROSENE will sell at D53.77, D49.59 and D46.09 respectively with effect from Monday 1st February, 2016….,” states the release.

According to the new price regime, D5.00 is taken from the petrol price per litre which was selling at D58.77 and D7.00 is reduced from the diesel price per litre which was D56.59.

Visiting some fuel filling stations in both the urban and rural areas to enquire about how this new development is being received by operators and consumers in the sector such as the dealers, pump attendants and vehicle owners, the general view is that the reduction is too small considering the continuous decline of prices of crude oil in the world market for a long period now.

A pump attendant at one of the GALP filling stations in the Kanifing Municipality said they heard the news that the price per litre for petrol, diesel and kerosene will be reduced on the 1 February (Monday) and that some drivers have already started asking them whether these new prices have taken effect.

On how she viewed the reduction, the lady pump attendant said she welcomes the development but added that they were expecting a bigger reduction than this. She, however, directed the reporter to their head office for comments on the issue.

Another pump attendant at Total filling station, which is now Elton, said they are yet to charge the new prices but some drivers are asking them about it. He also asked the reporter to contact the station manager, who was not there at the time.

Talking to some vehicle owners, who are the direct consumers of the petroleum products i.e. petrol and diesel, they described the price reduction as marginal and called for them to be further lowered in line with the falling market prices.

“For more than two years now, the world market prices have been going down but Gambia was instead increasing the prices of petrol and diesel regularly. It is time now that they reduce it by half since the world market price has reduced by more than half,” said Mr. Ebou Jobe, a private vehicle owner.

Alhaji Saidy, a commercial vehicle driver, said government can reduce fuel further if they want fares to reduce.

“I was told by someone that the world market price has reduced significantly. I think this is an opportunity for fares to be made more affordable to the average person if government wants it. They just need to reduce it in line with the world market prices for the benefit of all such as government, dealers, and consumers,” he said.

The filing stations of GNPC, Total, Jah Oil are still selling petrol and diesel at 58.77 and 56.59 respectively pending 1 February. The attendants indicated their awareness of the announcement but expressed their wish for a further reduction.