Muscat: Fuel price hikes announced for May by the Ministry of Oil and Gas have taken residents by surprise. Prices of all grades of fuel will rise this month.
Latest figures released by Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas state M95 petrol will now cost 199 baisas per litre, while M91 petrol costs have risen to 186 baisas a litre. Diesel prices have risen to 204 baisas from 200 baisas a litre in April. Last month, M91 fuel cost consumers in Oman 180 baisas a litre, while M95 fuel was priced at 192 baisas a litre.
News of the across-the-board rises has left lots of residents - and some officials - worried.
“We ask the government to study the effect and then take a decision that is good for all,” Ahmed Al Hooti, an Oman Chamber of Commerce member, said, adding that the chamber was keen to see a system in place that protects the poor from fuel price hikes.
“It is a double edged sword. While it helps government increase revenue, it makes it harder for people and businesses to spend. Less disposable income would mean less spent on economy, which can boost other sectors. I think a study on the effect of such a decision must be compiled and if raising prices seems the best thing to do after that, it must be done,” Aamir Patel, a Chartered accountant said.
A last minute rush is expected at petrol stations today before higher prices kick in.
“We are expecting a huge rush at the petrol station today, as it has always been before a price rise. We weren’t expecting M91 to rise but it has so we are expecting to run full until midnight,” a petrol pump official in Ghubra said.
“If you tell a customer that prices have gone up from 125 to 250 baisa overnight, they will completely freak out, so what you do is you increase it slowly. This also creates hope of a possible price decrease among the public in future,” said Abel Abraham, a resident of Oman.
“We were used to getting eight litres of fuel for one rial but I think that will not be the case for a long time now,” he said.
“I wonder why petrol prices in the Middle East are such a serious topic of discussion. It’s still way cheaper than anywhere else. I think people who live in Oman are actually very lucky to have such low fuel prices. You should see the prices people pay for fuel here,” Zarshis Avari, an Oman living in Australia, said.
“It may not be that much, but every little cost adds to our responsibilities every month,” Ashish Kumar said.
“With the way fuel prices are increasing, it will only be a matter of time before petrol prices cross 200 baisa a litre. I am sure we’ll be paying above 200 baisas for a litre of fuel before 2018 comes around. I had initially thought we’d need to worry about this only next year, but that does not seem to be the case anymore,” Shalom Samuel, another resident in Oman, said
“It’s just getting bad for business every day. I don’t know what to do really. New taxi services and higher fuel prices every month. No point in driving a taxi anymore,” Ahmed Saeed, a Muscat taxi driver said.