Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fuel prices up again!

The government is once again looking to justify another raise in fuel prices. Today, Muasher, Badran and the usual chorus at Al Rai are explaining why. Of course, everybody knows that crude prices are up; although there is the usual confusion (which is of course deliberate) as to how much of the crude we import is free or at reduced cost. Presumably, the Saudis and the Kuwaitis are in need to bolster their budgets by charging us. Fine.

In any case, I hope that the charade that accompanied the last price rise a few weeks ago is not repeated. At that time, the government promised that the government budget will be slashed by limiting spending on non essentials, like government cars used for private purposes. I don't know about everybody else driving the streets of Jordan, but the number of cars with red license plates and little kids with drivers does not seem to have fallen significantly. Give me a break.

Badran now claims that 80% of the subsidies on fuel go to people who are well off. I guess that if you can only afford to walk, then you wouldn't be able to take advantage of our cut rate gas prices, which are close to the prices in the US, which when I last checked were not subsidized. Since the most subsidized products are kerosene, diesel oil, and residual fuel, I am wondering where this 80% number comes from. Kerosene is used by poor people for heating in the winter, and our lousy diesel oil is used in dilapidated trucks and buses, producing clouds of awful pollution. To be fair, it is also used in central heating for more wealthy homes, but I doubt that this is a very large volume. The residual fuel is used by factories and power plants, and is being phased out in favor of natural gas imported from Egypt.

Of course, people will accept this latest raise, and will not say anything when the world prices go down, or when the Saudis are told to give us some free oil.


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