Opposition seeks social partners’ support over ‘exorbitant fuel prices’

Nationalist Party meets with MCESD members: 'fuel prices must be lowered immediately and substantially'

Photo by Ray Attard
Photo by Ray Attard
Simon Busuttil addresses social partners • Video by Ray Attard

The Opposition is seeking the support of the social partners over its calls for cheaper fuel prices.

In a meeting with MCESD members, PN leader Simon Busuttil said the opposition would continue pressuring the government for a substantial and immediate decrease of fuel prices but it also required the intervention of the social partners.

“As members of the MCESD you have an important role to play. Your word carries weight,” Busuttil said, adding that the Opposition would not “clap at a 1c or 2c reduction” in fuel prices.

The Opposition has tabled a motion in parliament calling on the government to immediately reduce fuel prices, but the government had not placed the motion on the House Business Agenda yet.

“If the matter will not be discussed on Tuesday or Wednesday, the opposition will call for parliament to meet on Thursday,” Busuttil said.

Insisting that current domestic prices of fuel were unjustified, Busuttil said that even consumers in Scandinavian countries were paying cheaper prices on fuel. “Something must be wrong. The government’s reaction to our calls was not an elegant one. We will keep pushing for common sense to prevail.”

Shadow energy minister Marthese Portelli also delivered a presentation on the decline in the international price of oil and the prices paid by Maltese consumers in view of a 55% decline in the past six months.

Overnight, the international price of oil went up by 8% to $53 from $49 today.

Portelli said that when the price of oil was $98 in 2011, consumers paid €1.34 for diesel and €1.41 for petrol; when in 2009 the price was at $45 a barrel, consumers paid €0.94 for diesel and €0.97 for petrol.

In unsourced tables, the PN quoted a $44 price for oil, reflecting the WTI crude oil price rather than Brent crude oil, which currently stands at $53.

According to the PN, consumers were paying 1% more than in 2011, when the international oil prices were double that of today. The PN’s table also showed a substantial decrease in all EU member states.

Quoting EU Commission statistics dating 26 January, the price of diesel in Malta was the second highest, surpassed only by the UK at €1.52. In the case of petrol, Maltese consumers were paying the third highest prices in the EU.

The PN also quoted consumer-generated energy price website energy.eu, which Portelli said was updated on a daily basis and was now showing Malta among the member states with the highest prices.

According to energy.eu, Malta has the third highest price for diesel and the fourth highest price for petrol. “Prices in Luxemourg are as low as €0.98 for diesel and Bulgaria has petrol at €0.96. Families and businesses in Malta are among those paying the highest in Europe and they should be benefitting from the decline in the international price of oil,” Portelli said.

Busuttil added that the energy minister was scheduled to meet MCESD members on 9 February, questioning why he was not meeting them immediately.

He also said that the only two MCESD members who could not make it to the meeting were MHRA, due to other commitments, and the General Workers Union “who turned down our request”.

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