Gas, diesel price hike inflict pain at pump

July 11, 2008

Stop, take a deep breath, and pump. Drivers awoke this morning to see the price of fuel increase across the board nationwide, with diesel leapfrogging regular for the first time.

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

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

In recent days, the price of a barrel of oil has been flirting with $150, closing yesterday at just over $145.

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

Super would then increase to ¢731 ($1.40), 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 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,” Herrero said in a press release in early July.

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