Govt sets maximum prices of fuel

Ljubljana – In order to tackle the rising prices of petroleum products, the government set on Monday the maximum retail prices for fuels at service stations. From Tuesday, regular petrol will cost EUR 1.503 per litre, and diesel will cost EUR 1.541, said Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek. The prices will be in force for 30 days.

Petrol will be about six cents below the currently lowest price at petrol stations, and diesel will be 13 cents cheaper.

“The aim is to calm the situation on the motor fuels market,” Počivalšek told reporters. He highlighted that there was enough fuel in Slovenia and that consumers needed not fear a shortage of fuel.

The price was calculated on the basis of a seven-day representative average of prices, which the Infrastructure Ministry sends to the European Commission, he explained.

The prices are rising around the world for many reasons. Demand for energy products, and hence for motor fuels, has increased. In addition, the war in Ukraine is pushing the prices up. “Some of our suppliers or traders have been tied too much and for too long to Russian oil alone,” the minister said.

It is expected, he added, that purchase prices will go up, possibly down, depending on the crisis. The situation will be monitored during the next 30 days and the government will take further action if necessary, Počivalšek said, noting that the state did not want to protect only one side and had suppliers in mind as well.

He said there were several mechanisms they can use to balance the supply and sales sides. There is currently no need to tap into oil product reserves, he added. Possible restrictions on the amount of fuel that foreigners can fill up at petrol stations in Slovenia are also not planned for now.

“The fact is that the prices are similar to what we have had so far, maybe a little lower. Prices in Austria and Croatia are currently slightly above Slovenian prices, in Hungary they are well below, and in Italy they are well above them. We will take further measures in line with developments in neighbouring countries,” said the minister.

The government is expected to adopt the decree setting maximum fuel prices today. It will enter into force on Tuesday after its publication in the Official Gazette, Počivalšek said.

The regulation of retail prices of petroleum products was announced earlier today by Prime Minister Janez Janša during questions time in parliament. He recalled the panic seen last week, when some people stocked up in the face of expected price hikes, and said that the government would not tolerate speculation on the fuel prices market.

The Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) welcomed the government’s move as did the centre-left opposition, which made an effort to regulate the prices last week. The opposition considers this to be a step in the right direction and urges the government and the coalition not to adopt financially unsustainable laws before the April election.

Marjan Šarec, the leader of the largest opposition party LMŠ, said that in light of a rather poor forecast of inflation rate that would only deplete the budget and make the situation harder for the next government.

The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said that the government would also have to start looking for structural solutions to provide alternative energy sources and to switch to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, economist Sašo Polanec said that the re-regulation on the basis of average world prices would not significantly change the retail prices of oil products.

“The recent price increases are mainly due to shocks in global markets, not to deregulation. The only benefit of regulation is that it might be able to reduce price fluctuations within a seven-day period,” he told the STA just before the government’s latest move.

At the moment, it would be more beneficial for households and businesses to lower excise duties on petroleum products and the share of biofuels as set in Slovenia, noted the professor at the Ljubljana School of Economics and Business.