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Pain at the pump in two months’ time

Tuesday 15 March 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Economy, National

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Pain at the pump in two months’ time
Energy Centre's Daniel Taringa fuels up a motorcycle. CI NEWS/20051411

Cook Islanders will get a two-month break before they start feeling the record-high fuel prices that are shocking the world.

Chair of the Price Tribunal, Louis Enoka said it takes the Cook Islands two to four weeks to react to global price changes.

The country has old fuel stocked that was bought prior to the increase in fuel prices caused by sanctions placed on Russia, said Enoka.

A new price of $2.61 per litre of petrol has been set by the Tribunal as the maximum allowable retail price in Rarotonga, and comes into effect today. The new price is a decrease in five cents since the last price order set on January 17.

It will keep prices low compared to the rest of the world for the next two months.

“So in essence, we are still enjoying the benefit of stock we currently hold at the old prices,” Enoka said.

He says “very little fuel” has been imported in the last month because small volumes are being used at the moment.

“Any fuel coming in from this point on will be at the higher prices that the world is currently dealing with now, we’ve got a two-month window of ‘let’s enjoy it’.

“The prices we see overseas, we’re going to see by the end of May and there’s not a lot we can do about it.”

Enoka said he could not speculate what the price of petrol would be but said New Zealand prices could be used as an indication of where it would end up, if not a little above because of freight.

Petrol is about 40 cents cheaper in the Cook Islands than in New Zealand which is around $3 a litre.

The cost of fuel will also increase the prices of other commodities such as food which will cost more to bring into the country.

“The reciprocations of fuel increase just mean all commodities are going to slightly increase,” he said.

Enoka said there was “a strong possibility” electricity tariffs would also increase. In Rarotonga, Te Aponga Uira generates electricity by using diesel generators.

“There’s going to be price increases but we are going to try and keep it as minimal as we possibly can.”

Enoka said meetings between the Price Tribunal and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management were being held over the next couple of days to see what could be done to keep prices low.

However, Enoka said he was not able to tell Cook Islands News yet what ideas would be discussed.

In New Zealand to counter the rising cost of living, the government has temporarily pulled 25 cents a litre off its fuel excise duty and told petrol companies to pass it on.

It should save $11 to fill a 40-litre-tank and $17 for a 60-litre tank.

Enoka said people locally needed to start looking at lifestyle changes.

“It’s as simple as using a pushbike, use a motorbike, cut down on the amount of trips we’re doing.

“It’s just the cost of living anywhere in the world is scary and it’s not just on our fuel.

“Everyone’s got to bear it and there’s no way around that so our lifestyles need to change.”

Personally, Enoka said he’s been thinking of going vegetarian based on the price of meat that he’s seen substantially go up.

  • Additional reporting RNZ