Members of the gasoline retail trade are worried that the Jamaican economy could be hit hard as oil prices continue to inch up.
With oil prices now above US$70 a barrel and some analysts predicting an increase to US$100 by next year, the Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association (JGRA) says this will likely spell bad news for the country.
"It cannot auger well for our industry, our commercial activities here. It will hamper our growth projections for the country and of course, high sale price will start a domino effect in increasing prices and that at this time when we are looking at a recovering economy cannot auger well for us," outlined JGRA President Philip Chong.
Still, the JGRA president said gas station operators have not seen a fall-off in sales even with prices at the pumps inching up in recent weeks.
"As usual, sales are not affected as we just buy as we need. So the trend continues but it will be an increase in capital expenses from the dealers which will go on probably higher interest rates to us and added additional costs, something we can really do without at this time," he asserted.
In a recent interview with RJR News, Energy Minister Dr. Andrew Wheatley said the Holness administration is looking to develop strategies to prevent a major blow to Jamaica if oil prices skyrocket.
Analysts have predicted that prices for crude oil may rise sharply due to major supply risks in Iran and Venezuela which are likely to strain global energy markets.