This is not the best time to be a motorist. Across Europe, households are facing much higher prices when they visit fuel stations. In the UK, the situation is so dire that the army is being called in to help deliver supplies. The pandemic has disrupted fuel supplies leading to shortages and hence higher prices. Moreover, in some countries, cash-strapped Governments had to recur to raising taxes on fuel or VAT rates.
The price to purchase a litre of petrol was €1.32c at the beginning of the year across the EU, while that of a litre of diesel was €1.20c. At that time, the Conservative Opposition in Malta was yelling to all and sundry that the Maltese Government was stealing consumers as local fuel pumps were charging motorists €1.34c for petrol and €1.18c for diesel.
Fast forward to today. The price of a litre of petrol in the EU is now €1.61c, or 27c higher than in Malta. The price of a litre of diesel in the EU is now €1.47c, or 26c higher than in Malta. And yet Nationalist spokespersons are curiously silent. They even have the gall to say that Government is letting inflation run loose.
If Labour had adopted the Nationalist policy of letting fuel prices move in line with international prices, today motorists would be paying at least €1.60c for a litre of petrol and €1.45c for a litre of diesel. For most families that would mean an additional €13.50c on fuel every week, or a net impact of €700 in a year.
Instead, Labour’s fuel price stability policy means that Malta is the only country in the entire EU where fuel prices have not changed since the beginning of the year. In countries like Czechia the price of petrol has increased by 31%, while in Luxembourg the price of diesel is up by 31%. The country with the lowest price increases, Portugal and France, still have raised prices by at least 15%. In Malta the increase has been exactly 0%.
As a result, Malta has the second lowest price of diesel in the EU, and the seventh lowest petrol price. While other motorists are feeling the pinch, the Maltese are facing no impact of the recent increase in the international price of oil.
Now some might argue that this is just a fluke and that policies adopted since 2013 have hurt Maltese motorists. Well, data show that since April 2013 the price of petrol in Malta has fallen by 11% while that of diesel has plummeted by 14%. By contrast in the EU, the price of petrol and diesel has risen by 4%.
On average in these eight years Maltese motorists faced an average price of petrol of €1.36c and an average price of diesel of €1.25c, while the average EU motorist faced an average price of petrol of €1.41c and an average price of diesel of €1.23c.
In 8 out of 10 weeks since April 2013, the price of petrol in Malta was lower than in the EU, while the same was true for diesel in 7 out of 10 weeks.
Labour’s fuel price policies have not just delivered more stable prices. They have also resulted in consistently lower prices than the liberal price policy adopted in the rest of the EU.
Contrast this to what the Conservative administration had done. It had raised the price of petrol by 36% and the price of diesel by 35%, when in the rest of the EU the rise had been of just 21% and 17%.
Under Labour, Maltese motorists faced a much better outcome than other EU motorists. Under the Nationalists, motorists faced rises that were nearly twice those in the rest of the EU. And still the PN argue for the return to pre-2013 fuel price policies.