Part of opposition files bill to re-regulate prices of motor fuel

Ljubljana – A group of opposition and unaffiliated deputies have filed a bill on regulation of prices of petroleum products that seeks to introduce the same pricing mechanism as it had been set out in the relevant decree until April 2016, when the first round of price liberalisation took place.

The bill filed into parliamentary procedure on Thursday seeks to regulate the prices of unleaded petrol, diesel and heating oil by introducing a pricing mechanism under which the upper margin that can be charged by retailers would be limited.

The mechanism and maximum margins would be the same as in the decree setting prices for petroleum products that entered into force in February 2016, shows the proposal signed by MPs from the Left, Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and unaffiliated MPs.

They argue that the goal is to enable price transparency in the petroleum product market and ensure an optimal and stable flow of public revenue, and that the bill would pursue the principles of economical tax and responsible fiscal policy and consumer protection.

“We are witnessing chaos in the petroleum product markets this week,” the initiators said, noting that the panic had led to long queues in front of service stations and frantic shopping.

“The reason for this is the lack of transparency of fuel prices, the overall price hikes and the fact that fuel prices may differ between individual service stations of the same retailer,” they added.

The initiators of the bill believe that additional price hikes could be expected in the coming days and that these prices were exclusively controlled by the market. The main beneficiaries of the current regulation are fuel retailers, they added.

Until 9 April 2016, the prices of petroleum products had been formed every fortnight based on trends in petroleum prices on global stock exchanges and the US dollar exchange rate, with the mentioned decree serving as the legislative basis.

Due to rising prices ahead of the heating season, the government reintroduced regulation of the price of heating oil last November, and in February it cut excise duties on unleaded petrol, diesel, heating oil and natural gas for heating until the end of April.

However, this did not result in lower prices as the price of raw material represents the main share in the price of fuel, in addition to excise duties, taxes and margins.

The government started discussing yesterday possible scenarios for securing a sustainable pricing policy for motor fuels, with Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek saying that intervention was possible in the event of uncontrolled growth of fuel prices.

One of the options is releasing commodity reserves and limiting prices, he said, adding that everything would depend on the decisions at a two-day informal EU summit that started today in Paris.