No Hike

March 13, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s petroleum utility will not raise retail fuel prices at least until the traditional April Sinhala and Hindu New Year festival, despite record crude oil prices, petroleum minister A H M Fowzie said. The state-owned petroleum utility Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) will use profits from overcharging hapless petrol uses and gains from crude oil futures hedging to maintain prices and subsidise diesel and kerosene.

“Even if world oil prices go up we don’t want to heap more burdens on consumers,” Fowzie told a news conference Thursday. “We will earn profits through other ways and continue the subsidies.”

CPC’s practice of fleecing petrol users, such as small car owners and motorcycle users and giving benefits to diesel users especially businesses and fleet-owners, has come under fire from some critics.

A CPC statement issued today admitted that through the last price increase on January 13 the utility overcharged petrol users by 18.55 rupees and gave an 11.47 rupee subsidy to diesel users.

However, no consumer has so far taken either the CPC or the Lanka IOC – which piggy-backs on CPC prices – for unfair trading practices.

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