20 Mar 2008

Cooks fuel price dispute continues

4:28 pm on 20 March 2008

The Cook Islands Financial Secretary, Sholan Ivaiti, is refusing to say whether he will try again to force down the price of petrol after a High Court order revoking cuts announced last week.

The Cook Islands fuel price review committee had set new low prices last week of up to 60 cents a litre, with retailers being forced to cut their margins.

But the retailers threatened to stop selling fuel before the High Court revoked the new price order yesterday.

One retailer, Don Beer of Beco, says years ago the Government pushed their margin down from 20 to 15 percent which they had reluctantly accepted.

But he says the latest move, without any consultation, was very unpopular.

"When they decided unilaterally that it was going to be 8.5 percent without any consultation, people got very angry over that. They just said well we are not doing it, we are not paying it. So we all agreed at the meeting [of the Rarotonga fuel retailers] that we would stop selling petrol until government negotiated a fairer price."

Don Beer

There was no comment from the office of the Financial Secretary about what action would now be taken.