Meyers pledges to maintain price controls in midst of economic pressure

POSTED: 02/25/11 12:35 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Economic & Tourism Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunications Franklin Meyers, says Government is closely monitoring the situation in the Middle East and North Africa with respect to the impact and influence that it will have on the world’s economy in general and St. Maarten in particular.

The Minister pointed out that global oil prices have already spiked due to the situation in Libya.  The Minister further asserted that any spike in oil prices will cause ripple effects on our economic wellbeing and aggravate the already high cost of living on the island. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is also following with interest the unrest because Libya had promised the organization members million of dollars in investments.

“The Hon. Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda Baldwin Spencer pointed out that the unrest has serious implications for all of us because whether we like it or not. We are still very much dependent on oil from the Middle East. I can agree with him wholeheartedly,” Meyers said in a statement.

“Our residents should already start looking at ways and means on how to conserve energy by limiting unnecessary driving and/or by making use of car pooling. We should also be looking at the amount of energy we use in our homes and cut back wherever possible. With respect to the latter, there are many ways to cut back on the amount of energy that we use at home by visiting the website of the electrical power production company GEBE which has tips on how to reduce energy usage,” the minister added.

Jamaica state owned oil refinery Petrojam announced this week that Jamaican motorists will have to pay almost two Jamaican dollars more for a litre of gasoline. This is the fourth straight week of increases in the prices of gasoline in Jamaica. Oil rallied over a US$100 a barrel in New York this week for the first time since October 2008, as Libya’s uprising threatened to stop exports. Libya is Africa’s third-biggest crude supplier. There is global concern that surging fuel prices will impact the global economic recovery.

Food prices around the world surged to a new historic peak in January, for the seventh consecutive month, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), adding that the prices are not likely to decline in the months ahead. According to the FAO, its latest Food Price Index, a commodity basket that tracks monthly changes in global food prices, averaged 231 points in January and was up 3.4 per cent from December last year, the highest level since the agency started measuring food prices in 1990.

“The FAO says that the upward pressure on world food prices is not abating and is a major concern especially for low-income food deficit countries that may face problems in financing food imports and for poor households which spend a large share of their income on food. Government will carry out the necessary price controls and do whatever is in its power to minimize any adverse effects the ongoing unrest in the Middle East and North Africa will indirectly have on our economy,” Meyers said.

“With the implementation of the Integrated Neighbourhood Development Programme needs assessment survey, which was scheduled to conclude on Thursday in St. Peters, vital information will be gathered with respect to the general wellbeing of the community.  Armed with this type of information, Government will be able to develop policies that will positively impact the community,” Meyers pointed out.

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