Petroleum proposal draws opposition

Even the president’s economic council is coming out against a proposal that would jack up petroleum prices.

The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos says that a change in the way prices are calculated will mean a 75 percent increase in the price of liquid petroleum gas, a 35 percent increase in the price of low grade bunker and a 45 percent increase in the price of asphalt.

The proposal that will be aired at a public hearing next year has outraged the business community, too.  An increase of that magnitude is certain to filter through the rest of the economy and cause prices to increase. For example, plastic is made from petroleum.

The Consejo Presidencial Económico called upon the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio and the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía to oppose these increases and seek a meeting with Autoridad officials to discuss the situation.

Petroleum prices, including gasoline, are regulated and not subject to free market influences. The petroleum and similar products are channeled through the state monopoly, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, although the company does not do any refining.

One indication of the accuracies of the prices established by the Autoridad is that Costa Rican gasoline prices are at least 30 percent higher than elsewhere.

The Refinadora Costarricense blames Costa Rican laws and its agreement with the employee unions for the higher prices.

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