Chamber federation calls for opening up country’s petroleum market

A federation representing 23 chambers of commerce Wednesday called for the end to the motor fuel monopoly in Costa Rica.

The Federación de Cámaras de Comercio y Asociaciones Empresariales said that the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo S.A. does not represent the best interests of the Costa Rican population who require fuel of quality and at a just price.

The state refinery’s union abuses its contract with the company and obtains exaggerated benefits, the federation said.

The call to free up the motor fuel market comes as a lawmaker, Otto Guevara Guth, filed a constitutional court case seeking to overturn the union agreement due to its disproportionality, he said.

The federation also expressed concern about the impact of increases in fuel prices that are about to take effect. More are anticipated because of the rising international petroleum price.

The refinery and its union are sacred cows to most politicians because about half the fuel price is taxes and union members are politically active. No one in an official position has expressed the views contained in the statement the federation issued.

The refinery does not really refine petroleum. It has closed its plant that did that. The company obtains gasoline, diesel and liquid petroleum gas internationally and imports it. Most of the distribution is either by the firm’s petroleum pipeline or private carriers.

Costa Rica may have large petroleum reserves in the northern part of the country as well as offshore, but tapping these also is a sensitive political issue. The government has declined to allow a Denver, Colorado, firm, to continue with its plans to drill exploratory holes for petroleum in the northern zone.

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