Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Jet fuel price reduction : Too little, too late

Sidi Sanneh 
Government has just announced a 15% reduction in the price of Jet A1 fuel from $ 0.88 to $ 0.75 per liter prompting many to wonder why this late in the game.

Where was Jammeh when the barrel of oil started to plummet two years ago from its peak of     $ 115 to its current $ 50 per barrel, resulting in pump price adjustments all around the world, including Gambia's neighbors?  He was busy price gouging by refusing to reduce petroleum product prices.  For those unfamiliar with the local petroleum market, Jammeh and his business partners own the majority share of the petroleum retail market.

While Jammeh kept petrol prices high, Gambia's immediate neighbor Senegal was reducing fuel prices across the board, including kerosene which is used the average Senegalese in the urban and rural areas.

In fact, the government stated in its Letter of Intent to the International Monetary Fund that a D 1 per liter levy was being introduced in its current budget to reduce the fuel subsidy motorists were enjoying which will go to the Road Maintenance Fund. Jammeh also increased the levy on premix oil, used primarily by the poor for cooking, lighting and to fuel outdoor motors which resulted in two fuel price increases from September to December of last year alone.

The jet fuel price increases drove the few airlines that use the Banjul International airport to refuel in Dakar or anywhere along the west coast, further denying Gambia the competitive edge needed to increase air traffic to an otherwise desolate airport that still boast of having one of the longest runway in the region.

Needless to say that the reduction in the price of jet A1 fuel is too little, too late.  Jammeh has decided to close the barnyard gate, two years after the horses have bolted.  The few airlines that use the airport have switched refueling stops from Banjul to Dakar or to other airports along the coast.