The news of the government’s intentions to increase the cost of fuel in the new year has not been well received by local motorists and politicians alike.
Opposition MP Terry Coe says that if the fuel prices go up next year, then the government should also seriously consider a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
On Friday last week, Premier Dalton Tagelagi confirmed that the government will be increasing the cost of petrol and diesel to more than $3 per litre next year.
He told News of the Week that the government has been subsidising the increased cost of fuel for the past six months.
Premier Tagelagi says “For the last six months, we’ve been subsiding a bit more. On the last boat from the data I received, we’re now paying thirty-five cents a litre so the right price should be about $3 at the moment”
The last review and adjustment of Niue’s fuel prices was in 2017 when petrol went from $2.59 per litre to $2.64 and diesel from $2.55 to $2.66 per litre.
Premier Dalton Tagelagi says that he is aware of the concerns of the residents and motorists living in the outer villages with these increases, but he says that the government is still the largest consumer of fuel on the island.
Locals have taken to social media reacting to the news of the price increases.
Liku Resident and artist Mark Cross shared his view on the Niue Island Facebook group, the largest online Niue community. Cross said that the increase in fuel prices should translate to the increase in the road maintenance budget for the outer villages because they are the main users of fuel on the island.
Mark says that the people who live in Alofi don’t really know how hard it is for those who live in the outer villages because of the terrible road conditions in the outer villages.
Zack Smith who lives in Mutalau and owns a mowing business shared that he already pays around $300-$400 per week on fuel and will expect this to increase to at least $500 per week in the new year.
Jackson Hekesi who is an Alofi resident says that any increase in the cost of fuel will affect everyone and everyone will suffer. Hekesi says that as a DJ he will have to increase his charges to cover for the increase in fuel when traveling to the outer villages.
Local fisherman and charter operator Ian Richardson says that when the price of fuel goes up, everything will go up.
With the increases expected, Niue’s fuel prices will be much higher if not one of the most expensive fuel in the region compared to Samoa where petrol costs $1.78 per litre and diesel $1.72 per litre and in Fiji petrol is $1.90 and diesel is $1.60 per litre. Fuel in the Cook Islands costs $2.36 for petrol and $2.10 per litre of diesel.
Meanwhile, Opposition Common Roll MP Hon. Terry Coe says that if the government is going to increase the cost of fuel in the new year, then they should also seriously consider a cost of living adjustment.
Terry Coe says that implementing a cost-of-living adjustment has been something the government past and present have avoided for a long time.
Premier Tagealagi says that the government is waiting of further data analysis before making any final decisions, but the cost of both diesel and petrol will increase to more than $3 per litre in the new year.