Jordanians angered by latest hike in fuel prices

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AMMAN — Jordanians reacted angrily to the government’s decision on Tuesday to raise the prices of fuel products for the month of June. This is considered the highest hike in the history of the Kingdom. اضافة اعلان

The issue of how big will the rise be has been the subject of social media chatter for the past few days, amid repeated appeals to put an end to additional rises, which have exhausted consumers who are already battling difficult economic conditions.

In a statement on Wednesday, the pricing committee said that the increase in the price of gasoline (octane 95) for the month of June was only 22 percent of the actual cost difference, 14 percent for gasoline (octane 90) and 11 percent for diesel and kerosene.

Activists on social media and bloggers launched an initiative calling for a national campaign to boycott gasoline and other fuel products, describing it as a patriotic duty.

Political activist Haitham Al-Ayasra, one of the sponsors of this initiative, told Jordan News that “the boycott includes not using vehicles on Fridays and Saturdays, shortening trips on other days, and carpooling, in addition to the importance of not using vehicles except for emergencies.”

Lawrence Rifai, a spokesman for rideshare drivers, told Jordan News that “a large number of drivers will continue their strike which they started few days ago, and what boosted their determination to continue the strike is the latest fuel increase, which has become a great burden for them.”

He added that “the number of cars working on rideshare applications has decreased to 92,00 at the present time from 13,400, and the number will decrease further during the coming period if the situation continues to be this bad.”

“A large number of cars will be seized, especially since drivers are no longer able to meet their financial obligations under such difficult circumstances,” Rifai added.

He said that “a sizeable part of drivers’ income goes to paying for fuel, and we are unable to pay for food and drink and our families other needs, which threatens the social and economic security of drivers and their families.”

Energy expert Hashem Aqel told Jordan News that “the increase in the prices of oil derivatives has become so stressful for citizens especially under the current economic conditions, which are getting worse.”

He indicated that “these rises have a negative impact on the national economy, especially that the national oil bill is draining foreign currency.”

“It can be said that there are many factors that go into setting the price of gasoline that are out of our control, including the costs of imported crude oil and refining, but there are things the government can do like reducing the fuel tax,” Aqel said.

“This tax must be reduced, and that should not lead to a decline in government revenues, because as more cash becomes available, consumers will spend it to buy other products which in turn will benefit the state Treasury,” he added.

Aqel expected the price of oil to continue to rise “especially in light of additional sanctions imposed on Russia.”

Energy Expert Amer Al-Shoubaki told Jordan News that “for the third time in a row, Khasawneh’s government broke historical records in hiking the price of fuel.”

“The rise in gasoline prices, locally, comes due to the rise in its prices globally, and the government’s insistence on reintroducing the fuel tax cut has made things worse,” he said.

“Since late last year and until end of Ramadan the government had cut that tax to zero but it re-imposed it as of May and at a time when global oil prices crossed the $100 mark,” Shoubaki added.

“Global oil markets are witnessing strong demand in light of production restrictions by OPEC Plus, the Russian war on Ukraine, and the European decision to sanction Russian oil, raising anxiety over supplies.”

“The refined derivatives markets are also witnessing an unprecedented rise in the price of gasoline and diesel as a result of a shortage in global refining capacity of oil which is due to lack of investment in refineries,” Shoubaki concluded.

Economist Mohammad Al-Basheer told Jordan News that “the energy file has become the second largest burden on citizens after the sales tax.” He indicated that “the rise in the prices of oil derivatives will affect several other sectors, especially as energy cost has interconnected links.”

He said that reducing the fuel tax would mitigate the negative impact of global increase on the prices of oil derivatives.

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