ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 09

Fuel price hike from midnight

By Our Economic Affairs Correspondent

The government raised fuel prices again last night as economic analysts warned living costs including transport fares will skyrocket further. From today, consumers will have to pay Rs. 6 more for a litre of petrol, Rs 4 for a litre of diesel and more and a rupee for a litre of kerosene.

Until last night the price of a litre of petrol stood at Rs. 111, diesel Rs. 71 and kerosene Rs. 67. Officials said the rise in petrol price was by 6.6 per cent whilst diesel had gone up by three per cent.

Neither Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie nor Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman Asantha de Mel was available for comment last night. CPC Finance Manager Lalith Karunaratna told The Sunday Times the latest increases were due to rising world market prices of crude oil.

Since April 19, this year, fuel prices have been increased on five occasions. The last increase came on June 29 after which both the CPC Chairman de Mel and Minister Fowzie made contradictory public remarks. The Chairman said further increases in fuel prices were inevitable. However, his published remarks in the media were contradicted by Minister Fowzie who said there would be no more increases.

Senior Petroleum Ministry officials warned last night further increases would become inevitable if world market prices continued to rise.They pointed out that the worst hit by the fuel price hike were those in rural areas who found it difficult to pay for kerosene, their only source of energy for lighting. Before the price increase last night by a rupee, a litre of kerosene was increased on June 29 to Rs 67. Though the increase is by a rupee, there has been protests from consumers of kerosene, largely poorer sections of society, that the prices were already at levels they could not afford.

The rise in fuel prices, just a week after flour prices were raised by four rupees, economic analysts warned last night would lead to price hikes in practically every consumer item. They said a fuller impact would be felt only in the coming weeks but warned that fare increases in the transport sector, rise in food prices, goods and services would become inevitable. Whilst bus and rail fares will come up for review, immediate increases are expected in fares of taxis and three wheeler scooter taxis.

It was only last Thursday opposition politicians criticised the Government for extravagant spending at a time when the cost of living was skyrocketing.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.