BLP COLUMN: Bottled gas pains
BLP legacy 1999 to 2003: introduced a programme for integrating children with special needs into the regular primary school system at the Ellerton, Eagle Hall, All Saints and St Matthew’s schools; established a snoezelen room at the Children’s Development Centre for children with special needs; and completely refurbished the Sir Clyde Gollop Centre For Homeless Men, doubling its accommodation.
Barbadian householders are anxiously waiting for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to explain and justify why it has been consistently punishing them with ever increasing costs for bottled gas. This is after they voted heavily in January 2008 to change the Government, largely on the strength of the Dems’ vow to make reduction of the cost of living its absolute numbers one, two and three priority.
With bottled gas being used by more than 80 per cent of our households, it should be easy to understand the extent and severity of the negative impact that high and regular price increases for this vital item is having on the finances and standard of living of thousands of Barbadians. Except that the DLP clearly does not relate to the implications of the effects of higher prices for bottled gas as well as electricity, both of which people at large are heavily dependent on.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has already exposed how the DLP is imposing unnecessary hardships on Barbadians by allowing the Barbados National Oil Company (BNOC), the Government-owned company, to sell electricity-generating fuel to the Barbados Light & Power at very high prices.
This has allowed BNOC in two years to rake in $100 million in profits, while forcing householders to pay unjustifiably high electricity bills, especially when the world price for crude oil has been declining.
The BLP at the same time announced a convincing solution to ease consumers by making BNOC sell its fuel to BL&P at cheaper prices, thereby making profits over a longer period of time.
Now like the rest of Barbados, the BLP is incensed that this DLP Government could be so insensitive as to authorize the recent steep rise in prices for bottled gas by refusing to use the power of control the DLP has through the law.
What makes this matter so offensive to the public is that they are fully aware that over the past six months the international price of crude has been declining. They want to know why, just as with electricity, the decline in oil prices is not being seen in lower prices for bottled gas. As one perceptive caller on radio observed, bottled gas sees very high increases and exceedingly small reductions.
Meanwhile, there are reports that people have resorted to cooking on rocks in the backyard when unable to afford high bottled gas prices, in the same way that children are having to do homework by lamplight because the electricity was disconnected for non-payment occasioned by high bills.
More and more the public is convinced that these repeated mistaken and harsh policies definitely reflect a Government without the skills to know and do better.
In Italy and Greece these struggling economies have had to be placed into hands of those that have the experience and the ability. Barbados needs to be put back into the hands of trained, experienced and highly regarded economist Owen Arthur and his gifted team so that Barbadians can experience betterment in their lives.