STAFF REPORTER
FUEL companies operating in Spain are currently charging consumers the third highest rates per litre in Europe after Italy and Denmark, Balearic Consumer Association ACUIB confirmed yesterday.

The Association said that the European Union Fuel Bulletin has also reported that it is now more expensive to fill up in Spain than it is in the United Kingdom.

Within just one week, the average price of a litre of petrol has gone up by 1.6 percent compared with the 1.265 euros per litre it was selling at seven days ago. Even then it was a just a cent away from an all-time record.

The price, before tax is added, is that which gives the real picture of what fuel companies are earning and of what policies they employ in different EU member states, explained ACUIB in a communiqué.

Instead of adapting their pricing strategy to meet the needs of the economy as a whole in the worst financial crisis in history, alleged ACUIB, the fuel industry is pushing costs up to record levels. The Association said that the companies would appear to have no scruples about getting rich “off the backs of poor consumers.” ACUIB further alleged that it is the general public which are “paying dearly” for complacency and “closed shop networking” not just among the fuel suppliers but among government organisations whose remit is to regulate the market.

The Association said that whilst people in Spain are now paying the same level of bills for primary needs such as electricity, fuel, water and communications as those paid by other Northern European countries, the average level of income is falling to that earned by neighbours in frequently poorer, southern regions.

ACUIB claims that the fuel companies attributing the steep rise in fuel prices to external factors such as the euro/dollar exchange rate or international market prices is not tenable because these factors affect all countries equally.

The question arises, says the Association, as to whether it is in the interests of Spain to let the provision of such essential supplies remain in the hands of private companies who have no other interests than their own.

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