GAS JUMPS BY 53 CENTS A GALLON IN SOLOMONS

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By Nina Tuhaika

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, Jan. 6) – The price of fuel has reached an all time high with motorists having to pay an extra SB$1 per litre of fuel [53 US cents per gallon].

"I am thinking seriously whether it is worth holding on to the vehicle," stated one frustrated motorist as she was queuing up for fuel. "It seems that the price of fuel is rising far more frequently now compared to previous years; SB$7.91 for a litre of fuel [US$4.27 per gallon] is just too much."

Bus owners and taxi drivers have also complained that the price hike will eat into their daily takings. "I think it would be good if we increase our fares, if not then we will be making huge losses," stated one bus driver. "It is getting very difficult for us, and the government should look at our plight."

The rise in fuel may also affect those traveling by sea. Boat operators traveling between Central Province and Honiara are also thinking of putting up their fares. "We have no choice," stated one boat owner. "It's either we increase passenger load, which is not safe, or we maintain the current load but charge higher passage fare."

Solomon Times spoke to a local economist and asked him if Solomon Islanders should be worrying about the price of oil.

"The World price for oil has reached US$100 a barrel and unfortunately our domestic economy is now feeling the effects, it may not come down anytime soon. Our economy is very vulnerable because of our high dependence on oil, we could see a general rise in inflation soon," he says. "So yes, we should be worried."

Experts have pointed out that several factors are associated with the current hike in oil prices including geopolitical tensions. The current problems, particularly in Pakistan and Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, are huge contributing factors.

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