Shortly after Finance Minister Larry Howai announced an almost 50 per cent increase in the price of premium gas, several gas stations in south and central Trinidad closed their pumps saying they had no gas. Drivers in Couva said several gas stations were selling only super gasoline, saying they had run out of premium gas. Some even closed for the entire day. In San Fernando, long lines were seen at the Rushworth Street NP Station. There was no rush however on Carib Street or at the Mon Repos service stations. However, the service station at Pointe-a-Pierre Road was closed shortly after the budget announcement, with employees claiming they had run out of gas.
In his first budget presentation, Howai announced an increase in the price of premium gasoline from $4 to $5.75 a litre. San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlett agreed with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar the increase would only affect only about six per cent of the population who had high-end vehicles. She said those who could afford to buy the BMWs and Audis could afford to pay the increased price.
However, the move was met with apprehension by drivers, who said it was the first step towards the total removal of the gas subsidy. One woman who said she had just retired and bought a new car, which used premium gas, denied she was rich and said the increase would affect her budget.
One man said a lot of the cheaper new cars also wee using premium fuel while the high-end SUVs and vans were using diesel. Other drivers said they were surprised by the increase since it constituted a "new tax" which the Prime Minister had promised would not be added. Howai has linked the increased gas price to the development of a comprehensive business plan which would invest $1.5 billion in converting some 90,000 gasoline vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG). He said that would be an alternative transportation fuel over a five-year period as the Government constructed multi-fuel stations and installed the pipeline infrastructure to stations.