Saba gasoline sales resume after row over Customs fuel tax error

Saba’s only gas station, which is operated by Big Rock Engineering NV.


Sabans were conserving gasoline for several days after the island’s only fuel supplier Big Rock Engineering NV on Saturday refused to sell gasoline due to an excise tax dispute with Caribbean Netherlands Customs.

Saba’s government stepped in over the weekend and mediated a solution, which has resulted in gasoline sales being restarted today, Tuesday. However, consumers will now be paying extra at the pump to make up for a tax calculation error made by Customs.

Saba’s only gas station, which is operated by Big Rock Engineering NV.

Saba residents were first alerted to a potential gasoline shortage when Big Rock Engineering said on social media that its gasoline tanks were empty, and no sales would happen until Customs resolves an excise tax error.

Excise taxes were adjusted on July 1, but Customs inadvertently inputted the figure of US $8.35 per hectolitre into its computer system instead of the correct $16.27 per hectolitre. One hectolitre is equivalent to 100 litres.

Customs told Big Rock Engineering of the error and asked them to pay the difference. But the fuel provider had been “selling gasoline at a rate that was too low, because the increased excise taxes were not taken into consideration into the forming of the price over the last two gasoline tanks,” the Saba government said in a statement on Monday night.

The Daily Herald understands that the company stood to lose an amount of several thousand US dollars after selling at the wrong price for at least several days.

The dispute over the incorrect calculation finally came to a head on Saturday, with the company refusing to sell gasoline, though it continued to sell diesel.

In a solution mediated by the Saba government, the consumer price of gasoline will temporarily increase to make up for the calculation error.

“Big Rock Engineering NV will spread the difference over the next six gasoline tanks,” the Saba government said. It did not disclose what the new price of gasoline will be when the company opens on Tuesday at 9:00am.

The Daily Herald.

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