Taxes inflate gasoline prices here by a third

The topic is the cost of living, many expats quickly bring up the price of gasoline. They look to Panamá as a country where the prices are lower.

The national petroleum refinery monopoly, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A. has come out to defend the prices. Costa Rica has the lower super and plus gasoline prices in Central America, it said, if the taxes are not counted.

The refinery said this was the report from the Comité de Cooperación en Hidrocarburos de América Central, which is part of the region’s integration system.

The report said that Costa Rican super per-gallon price in a March 9 to 15 survey was $3.154. The tax was $1.555. That number is a little different than the price A.M. Costa Rica computed last March 6 when yet another price increase was announced. But the number is close. The committee report used three digits after the decimal point for precision.

Because the computation includes the colon-dollar exchange rate, the final number depends on whether the higher or lower rate is used and on what day the price is computed. A.M. Costa Rica computed the price of a gallon to be 2,592.50 colons and said that was $4.85.The hydrocarbon committee said $4.719.

Still, taxes represented a third of the final consumer price.

The committee report said that the pre-tax price is the highest in Nicaragua where is it $4.234 per. gallon and that Nicaragua has the highest per-gallon consumer price of $5.093. Honduras has the second highest consumer price at $5.031 because it has a $1.409 tax per gallon for roads.

The results were about the same for regular, called plus in Costa Rica. A gallon before tax costs $3.078 here. The consumer price includes $1,486 in taxes for a pump price of  $4.564, the committee said. In Nicaragua, the consumer price was $4.695.

Panama super was 4.27, some 50 U.S. cents lower than Costa Rica because there is only 60 cents tax on a gallon. Regular was $3.91 a gallon, also with 60 cents taxes.

Costa Rica did not have the lowest diesel price before or after taxes. The pre-tax prices per gallon was $3.435. Prices in El Salvador and Guatemala were lower. The Costa Rican price with taxes was $4.314 compared to $4.029 in El Salvador, $3.990 in Guatemala, $4.380 in Honduras, $4.437 in Nicaragua and $3.801 in Panamá.

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