FUEL PRICE increases in the first few months of the year have brought an extra 205 million euros to state coffers and made petrol companies 775 million euros richer.
According to the latest information from the Director-General of Energy (DGE), Portugal burns on average five million tonnes of diesel and 800,000 tonnes of petrol.
The increases average out at four cents a month on diesel fuel and 2.5 cents on petrol, resulting in profits close to one billion euros, with the state taking 21 per cent in IVA.
The two main beneficiaries of higher oil prices, which surged past UShttp://www.00 a barrel on the international markets, are the government and petrol refining and retail companies such as Galp and Repsol.
“This is daylight robbery, a saga of greed at the expense of the ordinary Portuguese motorist, and is carried out by the petrol giants with the government’s blessing,” said António Saleiro, the President of the Petrol Retailers Association (ARCPN). “It was the oil companies that had gained the most from this scandalous swindle.”
But he said that the blame could not just be laid at the door of companies looking to the interests of their shareholders, but to the government that should be “regulating the sector and putting a stop to speculation.”
Faced with successive increases in fuel prices and the strength of the euro against the dollar, Minister for the Economy, Manuel Pinho, has asked the competition authority (Autoridade de Concorrência) to urgently analyse the development of fuel prices in Portugal, so as to guarantee that these reflect the (increased) cost
“Bearing in mind that, in just four months, there have been 14 price increases in fuel we must be alert to the consequences on business and ordinary consumers,” he said.
In Portugal, 60 million litres of diesel and 20 million litres of petrol are consumed per year. While in 2003 a litre of diesel cost 70 cents and petrol 95 cents, today diesel costs 1.32 euros per litre and petrol 1.44 euros.
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