Fuel stations to operate reduced hours as talks with government stall

As of tomorrow, motorists will not be able to purchase fuel after 6pm • Operators to withhold license payments

The GRTU said that most petrol station owners do not have the necessary funds to upgrade their service and required financial aid from the government or the EU to fall in line with an EU directive by 2020
The GRTU said that most petrol station owners do not have the necessary funds to upgrade their service and required financial aid from the government or the EU to fall in line with an EU directive by 2020

Fuel stations across the island will start operating on a reduced hours schedule from tomorrow as part of an ongoing dispute with the government.

Fuel stations will only dispense fuel during opening hours and before 6pm. Operators will also withhold fuel station license payments due to the Regulator for Energy and Water Services.

The Chamber of SME’s said on Monday evening that it, together with fuel station operators, had decided to opt for limited industrial action since talks with the government had stalled. The decision was taken during a meeting between the GRTU and operators on Monday.  

GRTU said the measures would remain in place until an agreement is reached with the government.

Earlier this month, the chamber threatened industrial action by petrol stations owing to a lack of progress to provide some €21 million in government funds for petrol pump upgrades.

A GRTU study conducted in 2014 had found that 80 out of 90 petrol stations in Malta and Gozo need to change all their equipment, from the petrol pumps, to piping and the underground storage tanks in order to bring them in line with an EU directive.

The EU directive says that changes are to be made by 2020, and GRTU’s study back in 2014 found that a total of €21 million will cover the costs for this to happen.

“We have made our proposals,” GRTU CEO Abigail Mamo told MaltaToday on Monday afternoon. “One way or another we are hoping to find an agreement, either one that we have proposed or another equivalent one.”

Mamo has previously said that petrol station owners do not have the necessary funds to upgrade their service and that help was needed from the government or the EU.

In a statement last week, the government said that in 2011 the Resources Authority had allowed an increase in profits from the sale of fuel as long as the station owners covered investments in their stations.

It said it could not accept the GRTU’s demand as the price of fuel would rise for consumers beyond the international price. It said that instead, it had proposed an increase in profitability that would not be a burden on motorists.

READ MORE: GRTU gives ultimatum over €21 million needed for petrol pump upgrades

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