Negotiations run out of gas; some petrol stations in Dominica close to force increase in their share of fuel price

One of the closed Rubis gas stations (Canefield)

Long lines of vehicles could be seen earlier today in parts of Roseau and environs as motorists lined up to fill up after the Association of Fuel Retailers in Dominica announced that they were ceasing operations from 1:00 pm today (September 3) until further notice.

“The members have engaged the Ministry of Trade since July 23, 2021 in an effort to avoid the collapse of this critical industry,” a statement from the Association said. “We further notified the Ministry of Trade on August 24, 2021 that our collapse was imminent and being an industry which is fully controlled and regulated by the Government, that intervention was critical and should be done with a matter of urgency.”

The fuel retailers cited the Ministry of Trade’s inability to provide a timeframe for the resolution of the issue and the failure of the government to honour a 2014 agreement to hold yearly reviews with the Retailers Association,

“The members have weathered significant financial strain since, and especially from the beginning of this pandemic, with fuel volumes depressed, costs increasing and margins controlled by the government, immovable,” the retailers declared in their statement.

And while they believe that “it was imperative that the minimum wage be raised for persons to be able to have a decent standard of living,” the retailers contend that the entire impact of the wage hike on the productive sectors needed to be analyzed with a view to determining how they could be mitigated and remedied. They maintain that the impact is particularly acute in the fuel sector where margins are very low.

“The fuel retailers of Dominica can no longer sustain their operations, pay their workers and secure their stations without a clear process of recovering those costs through their operations which is entirely government mandated, in price, profit, operations, safety, human resource and security costs. We stand ready to continue to serve the public once we are able to do so cost effectively,” the Association stated in its release.

The issue gained public attention earlier this month, when the contents of a letter dated August 16, 2021, sent to members of staff of Rubis West Indies Limited Dominica informing them of the company’s decision to implement lay-offs for three months effective  September 16, 2021, was published in the media.

The company attributed its decision to a loss of earnings “for nearly five years” and said it was awaiting word from the Government which could affect the company’s future on the island.

But on August 27, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, while speaking on the status of the negotiation between his government and Rubis, was adamant that his government would not give in to what he referred to as ‘extortionist approaches’ from Rubis and made it clear that the Dominica Treasury would import petroleum if Rubis leaves the country.

He argued against the $1.76 more per gallon on the price of petrol which he said Rubis is requesting, pointing out that given the price build-up mechanism that determines the wholesale price and the final price at the pump, his government is not paying the company less than what they pay for the gasoline, as they allege in a letter they had written to the government.

Skerrit said the government had made a “good faith” offer to increase the in-transit fee as well an additional increase of  0.23 cents while awaiting the audited statement from the company.

Dominica News Online (DNO) confirmed today that at least six of the nine service stations operated by Rubis West Indies Limited Dominica and one other provider had ceased operations and had indicated that they will not reopen until their demands are met by the government.

Noting their frustration, one of the managers of a Rubis gas station told DNO, “We’re operating at a loss and it’s very unfair that the PM would come on the radio and say what he said, it’s a clear indication that he doesn’t value our service, and if that’s the case, we shall shut down until something is done.”

Another pointed to the recent increase of the minimum wage which took effect on September 1, 2021, but says that the industry continues to suffer while the government reaps all of the benefits.

“We are taking a stand for the reconstruction of the industry. We are saying that too much is being taken away from us; we need a fair share of the ratio of investments,” another Rubis retailer stated.

When asked how long they plan to remain closed, the gas station operator responded, “Well that’s primarily up to the government of Dominica. This is a matter for the authorities to decide whether the industry or our concerns means anything to them.”

DNO also contacted the management of Rubis who claimed to be unaware of any action being taken by the service stations.

Meanwhile, other petroleum stations such as Mcmillian Service station located at Castle Comfort and West Indies Oil and the National Petroleum (NP) both located at Canefield, remain open and staff members assured DNO that they will be open during the stipulated hours over the weekend.

Leader of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, recently called for a fair and just margin from the petrol price to the private operators and proposed a reduction in the tax burden on the industry from $3.25 to $2.65 per gallon.

He further recommended that the government split the yield of 60 cents evenly between the petroleum importers and retailers to move the distribution margin from 67 cents to 97 cents per gallon and the retail margin from 70 cents to $1 per gallon.

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28 Comments

  1. Mark
    September 7, 2021

    Ibo, facts matter to me so enlighten me if you have the numbers. Rubis saying they’re operating at a loss isn’t good enough. Let’s see some evidence so we can have a clear understanding of the matter.
    I realize that people like you will quickly jump on the bandwagon of anything antigovernment because it suits your narrative but sometimes, stay out of the argument if you don’t have the facts.
    I did not hear the same demands coming from the other energy service providers on island therefore one is left to wonder whether Rubis is telling us the full story.

  2. Mark
    September 7, 2021

    Ibo, you have just done what I said will not work. NEGATIVITY. What is the opposition’s plan for the future? This is what will get you over the finish line and not the negative stuff. I can agree it may take a combination of both but telling folks all the negative things that they already know is not going to work. Remember you are trying to convince people to switch their support therefore the change has to be beneficial to them personally for this to happen.
    The electorate views all politicians as one and the same so you better give people good reason if you’re going to earn their vote.
    Your current approach is not going to work. Keep in mind the incumbent always has the advantage so you better have a good plan to win.

  3. Mark
    September 6, 2021

    Rubis is not obligated to show anyone their balance sheet but it would strengthen their argument by providing the facts. This is simple common sense. Some of us are prepared to dwell on hearsay for making the case. This is the wrong approach.
    As I have stated before, someone ought to get fired for gross incompetence if the company was allowed to operate for the past 5 years at a loss.
    Thank God some of you individuals are not running the country because Dominica would be below sea level right now.

  4. At D Door
    September 6, 2021

    When they are falling (never to rise again) the things that they do gets crazier and chaotic. So it’s just a matter of time. Dominica is too sweet to become a den of thieves forever. Change could be any day now. Let all the citizens of our country, our beloved Dominica, take heart and be courageous and patient. The pot is getting Hot. Note also, the foreigners who are among us are not for us. They don’t give a hoot about Dominica because they love their illegal “freedom” given to them by the one, the crooked one they selfishly support. Freedom from the labor party can’t wait much longer. This leader is ruled and is being controlled by the devil, Lucifer, satan, and evil workers on the ground. Dominica is unrecognizable. Its beauty and cleanliness has disappeared; and this my friends, are the mark and evidence of witchcraft and every evil wok conceivable. Bear in mind, that evil cannot be stronger and good. We must rescue Dominica now. Dominica can’t Breathe..

  5. Mark
    September 6, 2021

    Maybe the reason Skerrit keeps winning is because the alternative to Labor has not really made a case for change. Has anyone thought of that? Negativity is not going to achieve that goal. Folks keep blasting the government going in all different directions with no coordinated plan. For instance, we are talking about gas here but individuals keep bringing up all sorts of unrelated issues. If this is the way you plan to govern, the current situation appears to be more stable.
    Develop a real case for change, not just talk about unachievable goals and present them to the citizenry. Maybe you might gain some traction with such an approach.

    • Ibo France
      September 7, 2021

      You can’t be serious. You are being disingenuous and dishonest. The only reasons that guy occupies the highest office of government are due to the worst corrupt electoral system in the English-speaking Caribbean, importation of overseas voters and the manipulation of the minds of the gullible, ignorant and the illiterate.

      The present ruling regime should be blasted. They give people all the negative things to highlight and keep giving up to this very moment.

      Here are some sound reasons: No stimulus package despite the horrendous and ubiquitous suffering; police brutality; corrupt electoral and judicial systems; no transparency and accountability; madness in parliament; abject poverty; approximately $90 000 per month for the illegal occupant and his unaccomp!ished daft wife. I could continue to list these egregious aberrations for weeks. All are negatives compliments of one unimaginably corrupt man.

      What more would it take to convince you a change is needed?

  6. Mark
    September 6, 2021

    This is nothing new for governments to make more than the service stations. Anyone familiar with the energy sector should know that. It costs pennies to produce a gallon of gas in the US yet the cost at the pump is hovering around $2.60 for unleaded gas of which the service station on average makes between 20/25 cents. The producer averages about 10 cents above cost. The bulk of the cost is made up of federal and state taxes. I am certain that the same scenario exists in our neighboring islands.

    • LifeandDeath
      September 6, 2021

      That’s the type of slave mentality that threatens to keep Dominica in the ditch. Non thinking, repressive backwardness.

    • Ibo France
      September 7, 2021

      Are you capable of deep and rational thoughts? These are unprecedented times and it cannot be business as usual.

      The petroleum sector is one of the most important sectors in any country. The one in Dominica is genuinely under water. Any prudent government would feel obligated to throw them a lifeline before they drown in debts. If this were to go under, most other sectors, in the country, would fail. In fact, the entire economy would automatically collapse.

      In bad economic times, governments all over the world have to share the burden. But, again, trying to enlighten someone like you is near impossible. Excuses and voodoo mathematics only serve to complicate the already dire situation.

  7. Waiting For Airport
    September 6, 2021

    Dominicans are way too docile… it’s hard to accept we are the descendants of the ancestors who fought for freedom.

    Skerrit literally destroying everything of value in Dominica and the population doing nothing to put him in check. Meanwhile, on top of all the f**kery he doing, the population still paying his extortionate rent – which in itself is another scam he running to profit himself. Getting paid to run the COVID/vaccine Scamdemic on behalf of outside interests.

    Literally destroying an economy that is already on life support and the average person too blinded by party colours to recognise their own best interest. Will there even be a Dominica left for our descendants???

    The worse part is if election call tomorrow, all it takes is a ‘Popcaan concert’ and he will win. My people, I dunno how we reach this state but if we don’t wake up soon, Dominica will be a no man’s land.

  8. Just saying
    September 5, 2021

    You better watch it Skeritt, these are the same French companies that help destabilized Haiti. Your opponents are playing right into their hands, remember they de-nationalized your sole power company and have your citizens paying from the nose for electricity? Not only that, I notice they will join a multinational to bring you down. 8)

  9. No you didn't
    September 4, 2021

    Politics or not I am definitely not in favor of any company worth 2 billion euros bullying a small island state over $1.76 in one of their smallest markets. Disgusting! Someone has to put up a fight.

  10. L C Matthew
    September 4, 2021

    I am just reading this gas issue. The gov is making $3.25 per gal and the gas stations which are privately owned are making 67cents per gallon? The rest of the cost is basically fees for import and unloading at port? Someone please correct me if that information is wrong. Lord have mercy on us. The government is the one setting and controlling retail price. This is not a private enterprise. This is essentially a government hijack. They might as well be selling gas for the government. Is that really how this folks been operating all these years? No wonder our PM doing what the hell he pleases because this is the dumbest business arrangement i have seen. Folks really need some mental fortitude.

  11. Massacre
    September 4, 2021

    Come one come all on Monday 06 September 2021, at 10:00 am we are all going to gather on Kennedy Avenue near Ministry for the biggest demonstration that Dominica has seen.
    We have to get his Corrupt , inept and criminal cabal out of office.
    We have to restore the rule of law and respect for the constitution.
    We have to bring back all of the wealth that is being held overseas by Skerrit’s friends, back in the Dominican Treasury.
    We have to give every Dominican a financial stimulus regardless of their political affiliation.
    We have to cleanse the voting list and hold free and fair elections.

    See you there , organized by the Movement for a better Dominica.

  12. Mark
    September 4, 2021

    Why has Rubis not shown us their balance sheet as proof of the supposed losses they have been incurring. This would add more credibility to their case. Right now, all we have is hearsay and no facts. Maybe the ones who are always quick to blame the government have that information. Let’s have it.

    • RandyX
      September 6, 2021

      Why hasn’t Skerrit shown us the balance sheets of the CBI program? Rubis is under NO legal obligation to show its balance sheet to anybody else than its shareholders and the independent auditors. Your PM however, is required by law to show the CBI account to the opposition and the people of DA. So there we have it, but you still believe every word that man tells you. Even people like you should know by now that the PM of DA is a notorious liar.

  13. Poto Melo Mills
    September 4, 2021

    Leave my PM alone I poto

  14. Oil man
    September 4, 2021

    Right there in Dominica we have oil. I see oil sipping on my land but I want the right government to be in power before I authorize drilling. When we have a qualified minister of finance who can check money, not hide money. Yes.

  15. Let’s walk again
    September 4, 2021

    If you try to walk on what looks like “sidewalks” you run the risk of toppling the tables of vendors. No human being can enjoy their country without adequate space and comfort. We don’t have that in Dominica. Plus, we have droves of people flooding Dominica making a bad situation worse. To compound the matter even further – All these foreigners support and vote for a government that cares less about the quality of life for its citizens. 99% of these “leaders” are holders of United States Visa card and/or passport. So they don’t give a F…K about us or what our country looks like, and the quality of life that’s affecting us. Some times I feel like crying for my country the same way that God’s Prophets wept over Jerusalem. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Whosoever destroys the earth will pay. As well as those with little regards for it. God placed Adam and Eve in a Garden. Not in a Junkyard. Clean up Dominica now!!

  16. Let’s walk again
    September 4, 2021

    O yeah!!!! That’s what I want to see happen and it will happen. No sidewalks for pedestrians, no access on our roads for bicycle riders, our elderly are not able to cross the streets anymore, or go visit their friends up the road etc, etc,. People are locked in their home because vehicles have taken over our Island. I’m not an older person and I have to jump in gutters to avoid being hit or even killed by the excess volume of vehicles. It’s crazy, people it’s crazy 😜. If you try to walk on what looks like sidewalks you run the risk of the table of vendors. Dominica is just out of control. Close 60% of all gas stations and junk every vehicle from 20 years and up. See what is done with housing planning division? In some areas you can’t buy less than 10,000 square feet of land. And there’s a reason for that. So why is there no regulations on the innumerable amount of vehicles on our roads? Mahaut has more passenger buses running up and down “EMPTY” than there are people to full them.

  17. RandyX
    September 4, 2021

    This is yet another scandal of equal proportions as the Ross scandal. The inability and sometimes the unwillingness of this government and in particular Skerrit are just extremely worrying. What gives this government the right to destroy everything in this country at will? Why are we allowing these gangsters to destroy our island? The biggest joke he tries to make us believe that it is for the good of the country. Some will keep on loving their PM.

    • Ibo France
      September 4, 2021

      That’s the unadulterated truth, Mr. X. Mr. Skerrit would bulldozed your wall house, then build a shed for you, and tell you to be thankful to him for providing you with a comfortable shelter.

      What is mind-bogglingly perplexing about this, is that, some Dominicans believe him. Remember the man who was given the keys to a government apartment? He said the Minister for that particular constituency should have beat him long before the distribution of the apartments. I’m wondering if he feels the same today.

      What was even more stunningly shocking is that fellow Dominicans gave this gentleman a rousing standing ovation. Where else in the universe could this happen? Dominica is the strangest place on this mundane sphere.

    • Dominican to d bone
      September 5, 2021

      Stop your foolishness…

      • Selda
        September 6, 2021

        I know the truth hurts.

  18. Ibo France
    September 4, 2021

    Ponder on those words during ‘negotiations’ with the petroleum sector. Does any prudent leader utter such incendiary statements to someone on the other side of the table during such delicate and important bargaining? It’s no wonder Dominica is in dire straits.

    Let’s take a very brief look at Mr. Skerrit’s qualifications or lack thereof to be leader of this great country.

    He is the Minister of Finance. This man has never done a nanosecond of formal studies in finance, accounting nor economics. He’s a colossal ignoramus on these matters.

    He lacks the ability to negotiate due to these shortcomings: short sightedness, incoherence, belligerence, intransigence, low IQ, no self awareness, arrogance and a total lack of vision.

    Dominica is now on the edge of a spectacular economic and social collapse. With COVID cases multiplying; poverty growing; economy tanking, all these, while the ‘leader’ basking with his legs crossed, in his $29 000 000 fortress. Not hopeful at all.

  19. %
    September 4, 2021

    WELL DONE!!
    I am in total agreement with the move!!
    Skerrit has zero concern with the plight of the suffering. This liar is all about himself!!

    • KID ON THE BLOCK
      September 4, 2021

      DNO, Can % provide the evidence to always and to every comment of his/hers to be labeling Skerrit( the PM) a liar?
      According to the TOPIC on hand, % clearly is referring to the PM, which is obviously understood in his/her comment.
      Just for once, Could % provide the proof?

      ADMIN: To implement your suggestion as a standard we would also need to ask yourself, man bites dogs, linclown etc to provide proof whenever you refer to the political opposition or their respective leaders (or anyone) as liars, unintelligent, lacking in character or other derogatory or critical remarks. Conversely, we could also apply that standard whenever anyone describes someone as honest, intelligent or of good character.

      In short, you are free to express your personal positive and negative opinions on this site. However, specific allegations/descriptions of crime or inappropriate behaviour(or even specific charitable claims) need to be substantiated or verified.

      See our comment policy for guidance on what comments are published: https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/policies/#comment-policy

      • Ibo France
        September 6, 2021

        Stop your juvenile nonsense. DNO what? Your pettiness is comical. Stop exposing yourself for the nuisance you are.

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