Pain at the Pump May Not End Soon

July 18, 2008

Drivers woke up Tuesday to see the price of fuel increase across the board nationwide, with diesel leapfrogging regular gas for the first time.

Diesel increased by ¢88 ($0.17) a liter, moving from ¢622 ($1.19) to ¢710 ($1.36) at the pump. Super and regular gas increased by ¢60 ($0.12) a liter, from ¢656 ($1.26) to ¢716 ($1.37) and from ¢644 ($1.24) to ¢704 ($1.35), respectively.

The National Oil Refinery (RECOPE) requested the increases, the seventh recorded this year, due to the rising price of petroleum and decreasing value of the colón.

In recent weeks, the price of a barrel of oil has been flirting with $150 a barrel, though this week it dropped to about $135.

Prices at the pump could increase yet again if the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) approves another hike requested by RECOPE last Friday.

Super would increase to ¢731 ($1.40) per liter, diesel to ¢726 ($1.39) and regular to ¢721 ($1.38).

Meanwhile, lawmakers in the Legislative Assembly are debating a bill introduced by President Oscar Arias’ administration that would transfer the diesel tax to regular and super gasoline.

Legislators rejected the initiative last week, saying they supported deferring the diesel tax, but disagreed with transferring higher prices to gasoline consumers.

Instead, lawmakers proposed raising the departure tax at Juan Santamaría International Airport by $5 or increasing the sales tax on alcohol and cigarettes as alternatives to increasing the price of regular and super gas.

Fernando Herrero, ARESEP’s general regulator, said the authority was obliged by current standards to approve the most recent increase in the price of diesel.

However, as Herrero said earlier this month, “as soon as the Legislative Assembly approves the diesel subsidy and the Treasury Ministry sends the money to RECOPE, a process to reduce the price (of diesel) will begin.”

 

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