QCOSTARICA – Although consumers may feel that the price of gasoline became cheaper in recent months, the truth is that year-end price is still higher that at the start of the year.
While we had six consecutive price drops, the current price at the pumps is ¢689 colones per litre (¢22 colones more than the ¢667 in January), and ¢655 for regular (¢4 colones more than the ¢651 in January).
During the year we had 17 price changes: 11 increases and 6 drops.
The highest single increase was in July, ¢29 colones a litre, breaking the ¢800 barrier: a litre of super going from ¢787 to ¢816. It was later in the same month that the slide downwards began.
Gasoline prices in Costa Rica are national, that is the state refinery, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petroleo (RECOPE), establishes wholesale and retail prices based a formula that considers the price of crude oil on international markets and the exchange rate in the country. It is then the government agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Publicos (ARESEP), that authorizes (or not) the price change, which is then fixed at all gasoline stations across the country.
Critics of the system say it lacks “realism”.
One such critic, Antonio Galva, president of the Cámara de Empresarios del Combustible (Chamber of Fuel Dispensers) proposes the Aresep make two or more adjustments a month instead of the usual one, allowing for changes on international markets to be reflected faster here.
Affected by the high gasoline prices are not just drivers filling their tanks, rather everyone in the country with an electrical connection.
The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) – the state power company, for example, has passed on the high cost of gasoline to consumers. ICE blames the increase on the higher cost of bunker fuel to produce electricity during the summer months.
The increase trickles up the chain to distributors, who are today charging between 3% and 8% more, passed on to consumers.
For instance, the monthly cost for the consumption of 250 kWh is currently ¢17.600 colones. The cost in January 2014 was ¢16.200, an increase of ¢1.400 colones.