Hearing the news last night, drivers converged on fuel stations: this one in Porto

Diesel price increase ‘worse than predicted’: Autovoucher extends to €20 per month

The cost of a litre of diesel in Portugal won’t be going up by 14 cents on Monday; it will be going up by 19 cents, writes Correio da Manhã this morning. 

This was yet another shock in the headlines in a week full of them.

As SIC television news admitted, “we are going to pay more (for everything) and have less money in our wallets” as a result of the crisis emanating from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

By way of gesture more than anything else, finance minister João Leão said the government’s ‘payback’ to drivers through its autovoucher scheme will be increasing from €5 per month (per 50 litre limit) to €20.

But there’s a ‘catch’, in as much as the increase only appears to be set to run to the end of this month – and there is certainly no sign that fuel prices will be decreasing in April.

Said Mr Leão yesterday, the autovoucher scheme – introduced back in November last year as fuel prices started their dizzying upward trajectory – is already being used by around 1.6 million ‘beneficiaries’ and has, up till this moment, ‘reimbursed’ €26 million.

The government’s help for commercial drivers (taxis and bus fleets) will also be extended for another three months – meaning the State will cover a certain percentage of every litre purchased.

In November, it was 10 cents per litre, now this will increase to 30 cents per litre.

The money to subsidise all this is coming out of the government’s environmental fund (Fundo Ambiental), environment mnister João Pedro Matos Fernandes has confirmed.

Monday’s new hike at the pumps has habitually seen another ‘rush’ of motorists to filling stations. This will be the 11th price increase since January. Secretary of State for the environment João Galamba has stressed that as much as the government will try and attenuate the pain, it is impossible to stop it altogether.

He cited ‘the pandemic, the drought and the Russian invasion” as the reasons for fuel increasing so exponentially, and he delivered the habitual response to questions as to why the government cannot reduce the 60% taxes it levies on fuel to reduce prices for everyday people whose incomes are visibly shrinking: “the government doesn’t appropriate the taxes for itself… they exist to finance important expenses that benefit all Portuguese, like schools and hospitals for example”.

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