Disquiet as fuel hits new high

10th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

Motorists and politicians attack the government over rising prices at German pumps

Berlin  -- German motorists expressed anger at rising fuel prices Saturday, the start of the Whitsun holiday weekend, while opposition politicians called for a cut in fuel taxes.

German motorists saw the prices for a litre of petrol break through 1.50 euros (2.30 dollars) for the first time, with diesel only marginally cheaper at 1.45 euros.

"It's those people at the top who are spoiling it for the rest of us," a woman motorist who declined to be named told  one national  television station.

Newspapers carried graphs showing how the price of petrol had risen from 80 cents a litre in 1998 to crash through 1.00 euro in early 2000, 1.20 in 2004 and 1.35 in 2005.

While 2006 saw a steady fall to a low of 1.21 euros, since November of that year the course has been steadily upwards.

In a break-down of the price, the MWV mineral oil association said 65 cents of the price went to fuel tax with a further 24 cents taken in value-added tax (VAT).  The product itself cost only 51 cents, while petrol stations were taking just under 10 cents a litre.

Fuel traditionally costs more in Europe than north America but recently a number of nations have seen a disproportionate rise in relation to the rest of the world. The crisis hit a peak last week after a major refinery in Scotland was forced to close, preventing supply from an area of the North Sea oil fields between Britain and Norway.

Rainer Bruederle, deputy leader of the opposition free-market FDP, blamed the state for the crisis in Germany.

"The real oil sheikhs are in Berlin," he told Saturday's Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper.

German automobile association (ADAC) Deputy President Ulrich Klaus Becker called on the government to consider cutting environmental taxes and to increase the tax allowance for travelling to work.

The surge in the petrol price came after oil broke the 125 dollars-a-barrel mark on Friday. DPA

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