News on Sunday

Increase in petrol price : government Resists Demands of Increase of Prices

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The rise in petroleum products is causing several uproars in the country. The government, maintains that the increase in fuel prices will not impact on two sectors, namely bread and public transports.

In fact, in his Private Notice Question (PNQ) in Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition, Xavier-Luc Duval, asked the Prime Minister to state the amount of funds contributed to the subsidy funds on rice and flour and liquid petroleum gas as well as the total amounts of dividends received from the State Trading Corporation (STC) since 1st January 2016 to date. However it is the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, who explained that the recent increase in the price of Mogas and Gas Oil, respectively by 9.94% and 9.97%, was inevitable.

“There was a constant rise in the price of petroleum products on the world market since end of 2016 which caused the Price Stabilisation Account (PSA) to show losses of Rs 45.1 M as from May 2017 with an increase up to Rs 206.8 M in 2017and as at 15th May 2018, a deficit of Rs 230.4 M,” explained Ashit Gungah. 

Xavier-Luc Duval disagreed, stating that the report of the Chief Audit Executive for the period from January 2016 to July 2017, the levy of Rs 2.70 on the litre of gasoline and diesel has brought Rs 1.9 billion into the coffers of the STC. He further underlined that only Rs 716 million was disbursed to subsidize rice, gas and flour. He argued that it is thus a sign of bad faith to talk about a deficit in the PSA.  

Nevertheless Xavier-Luc Duval argued that each litre of petrol costs more since the elections. Minister Gungah explained that it is the Leader of the Opposition himself, when he was Minister of Finance, who introduced the Build Mauritius Fund. He further stated that “the money that has been contributed from the Build Mauritius Fund, most of that has been utilised just to repair the ‘wastage’ caused by previous Government.”

Xavier-Luc Duval believes that the Minister Gungah was misleading the Parliament and uttered that the STC has committed a theft. “Rs 2.70 is being charged on every litre of fuel for subsidising rice... Rs1.9 billion was stolen from the petroleum account and only Rs 700 M was spent in that period to subsidise rice, flour and LPG,” stated Xavier-Luc Duval.  

ACIM demands cancellation of increase in fuel price

The Secretary of the ‘Association des consommateurs de l’île Maurice’ (ACIM), Jayen Chellum is pressuring the government in regards to the recent increase in fuel prices. ACIM in fact set up a platform on Wednesday to demand the cancellation of the recent increase in fuel price. “With a salary of Rs 20,000 on average, this has consequences on the cost of living for most people,” said Jayen Chellum.

He explained that we must compare the prices over the last ten years. “In July 2008, Mogas was sold at $147 (USD) per barrel on the world market and we were paying Rs 49.50 per liter on the local market. But in May 2018, when the price dropped to $78 (USD), the price per liter in Mauritius is at Rs 52. How do we explain that at $49 cheaper on the world market, the price per liters is Rs 2.50 more in Mauritius? The numbers speak for themselves,” he uttered. 

Jayen Chellum stated that it is logical that any price increase on the world market has a repel effect on the consumers in Mauritius. “The taxes and other contributions are at Rs 27.29. The tax represents thus 52% of the current fuel price. This gives us the impression that the government is heavily taxing the road users to finance the Metro Express.”   

No increase on bread and public transport 

The government, on its side, maintains that the increase in fuel prices will not impact on two sectors, namely bread and public transports. However, bakers are not of the same opinion and the Association of Bakery Owners has recommended several rises, namely that of Rs 1.40 for the ‘pain maison’ and Rs 2.80 for the baguette. Nasser Moraby, president of the Association of Bakery Owners, trusts that if an increase in the price of bread is not applied, several bakeries will be forced to close down.

However, on its side, the government is considering the increase demands are unjustifiable. Bus operators are also claiming an increase of 18 to 43%. The members of the Federation of Individual Bus Operators are claiming an increase in the price of the bus fare. It should be noted that the National Transportation Corporation, for its part, said it does not intend to introduce any increase.