Unhappy service station owners prepare for work stoppage

Gasoline service stations are gearing up for a work stoppage because the price regulating agency cut their profit by about 5 colons per liter of gasoline.

The Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos said Tuesday it had rejected an appeal by an organization of service station owners.

The service station owners had appealed the cuts.

The Autoridad not only sets the price of gasoline and other petroleum fuels but it also establishes a profit margin for service stations.

In the case of gasoline that was 43.45 colons per liter. The Autoridad cut that to 37.97 colons. The margin was around 8 U.S. cents. The Autoridad cut that by one cent.

The margin for diesel got a 6-colon cut.The change in the profit margin came from elaborate computations made by the Autoridad. The service station appeal was based on the specifics of these techniques.

The Autoridad also said that stations have a legal obligation to provide service. It urged residents to call the free complaint line, 8000-273737, if they encounter service stations conducting a work stoppage.

The cut in the gross profit margin does not become effective until the decision is published in the La Gaceta official newspaper. That should be later this week. In the meantime, central government officials will try to avoid a work stoppage with negotiations.

Costa Rica has one source for petroleum products, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A., a government agency. Consequently the price regulating agency has a lot of control. All petroleum is imported even though Costa Rica may have vast deposits of petroleum. The current administration does not want to exploit these resources.

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