Port-au-Prince on fire over gas prices hike
Following an official notice of fuel price increases at the pump by the Government of Haiti, violent protests erupted. Major casualties include Deli-Mart, a major supermarket. Several cars parked in front of Hotel Best Western and Royal Oasis were burned to the ground.Barricade erupted in many streets, including the road to the only airport, preventing people from flying out of the country.
On Friday, July 6, 2018, when the civilians were busy with the Russia quarter-final world cup matches, the Government quietly published an official notice of fuel price hike at the pumps. As per government statement, this was done in order to comply with the IMF's "Staff-Monitored Program" (SMP) signed last February. Haitian daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste reports, prices for gasoline were to rise 38% while diesel prices were to go up 47% and kerosene 51%. The revised prices for the petroleum products, effective from July 7, 2018, in Haitian Currency, will be as follows (per gallon): Gasoline: 309 Gourdes; Diesel: 264 Gourdes; and Kerosene: 262 Gourdes. Before the rise, the prices for these products were: gasoline 224 gourdes; diesel 179 Gourds and kerosene 173 Gourdes.
The announcement triggered days of violent civil unrest, demonstrations erupted on Friday in Port-au-Prince. Western Premiere hotel in Petion-Ville was ransacked, banks and stores in Delmas were looted, many flights were either cancelled or rescheduled. Three people were killed on Friday as protesters used burning tires and barricades to block major streets. Demonstrations also broke out in Cap-Haitien, the second-largest city, as well as in the communes of Les Cayes, Jacmel and Petit-Goave. Following the riots, Haiti's Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned on Saturday. As per last news, the Haitian government bowed to pressure and suspended the fuel price hike on Saturday after widespread violence.
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told during a briefing, generalized fuel subsidy put a significant strain on Haiti's fiscal accounts. Earlier this year, Haiti signed a $96 million low interest agreement with the IMF and reduction of subsidy was one of the terms of that agreement. The country is currently facing double-digit inflation, a depreciating currency and slow growth. It also has a budget deficit of more than $150 million.