Government liberalises fuel prices on motorways
The deregulation of prices of diesel and regular at petrol stations along motorways, which have been accounting for slightly under a quarter of fuel sales, will be effective as of Wednesday.
It marks the next step towards full liberalisation after the prices of premium petrol and heating oil were fully deregulated in April.
Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said today that in the long-term the move should contribute to more competition and thus have positive effects for consumers.
Studies of the prices of premium petrol and heating oil have shown no significant rises since deregulation, he explained.
The government has reserved the right to restore price regulation if the liberalisation on the motorways network causes significant price hikes.
Počivalšek does not feel this will be necessary, as "domestic consumers can circumvent any potential exaggeration by fuel traders by visiting non-motorway petrol stations and foreign buyers by not filling up in Slovenia".
The ministry will moreover launch by the middle of next year a website with fuel prices at all petrol stations across Slovenia, he announced.
The minister said the decision had been backed by all ministers, even though the Finance Ministry reportedly had reservations before.
Počivalšek revealed that all three fuel traders operating on the motorways had signed a contract with motorway company DARS in which they pledge to channel a part of revenue from potential price hikes toward the public good. He did not wish to go into detail.
The prices of diesel and regular elsewhere around the country will still be adjusted every two weeks in line with a government model that considers global oil prices and the euro-dollar exchange rate.
The maximum margins for the two most widely sold fuels stand at EUR 0.08701 per litre for regular and 0.08158 for diesel.
The relaxing of the diesel and regular prices along motorways was announced in June by Počivalšek, who advocates full liberalisation of fuel prices. He could not say today when the next step could be expected.
The Slovenian Chamber of Commerce (TZS) welcomed today's decision, describing it as an important step towards a model of market formed prices that will be comparable to the one in other EU member states.
The chamber feels this is also good for consumers, who will be "able to compare prices among providers and decide on which one to choose on the basis of their own preferences".
It pointed to the findings of a survey suggesting that prices might not rise drastically and that excise duty revenues might rise.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), on the other hand, said it would keep a close eye on possible price hikes and call the government to account if prices do change significantly.
The GZS deems price rises likely given that two retailers, Petrol and OMV, dominate the market.