Petrol prices fuel new fury

A motorist association has called on the government to interfere in the Austrian mineral oil industry’s price determination.Arbö criticised today (Mon) that one litre of regular car fuel was 4.5 Eurocent cheaper at a petrol station in Germany than at a station in the adjacent Austrian province of Salzburg despite higher mineral oil taxes in the neighbouring country. Arbö said the German mineral oil taxation rate was 12.3 per cent higher than in Austria.”The Austrian government is well-advised to sort out this disgrace,” Arbö announced.The car club once more stressed that many Austrian petrol stations were selling fuel at higher prices in the mornings, when demand is generally higher, than in the evenings.Theodor Thanner, head of the Federal Austrian Competition Authority (BWB) announced recently that domestic oil companies did not consider global price levels when it came to establishing the prices of diesel and regular fuel at petrol stations.Thanner announced: “We have got evidence that Austrian (car fuel) price developments have developed more and more independently from what happened on the Rotterdam products exchange.”He promised that he and his team would continue to closely observe the Austrian oil firms’ actions.Studies have suggested Austrian mineral oil firms and the finance ministry are raking in millions of Euros per year thanks to the so-called fuel tourism. This term describes the many Germans, Czechs and Swiss coming to Austria only to fuel their vehicles at stations over the border since petrol is significantly more expensive in their homelands.The Austrian coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) said last month it expected an extra 417 million Euros in annual revenue by upping car fuel tax rates from 2011.The tax increase is part of a package of measures including higher and new taxes which the opposition has branded as a “socially unfair Halloween budget”.SPÖ and ÖVP are under pressure to lower the soaring budget deficit which currently ranges around 4.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) after just 0.4 per cent in 2008 and 3.9 per cent last year.Research has shown that the agreed tax package could lower the budget deficit to below three per cent by 2013, while the state debt is set to rise nevertheless.Meanwhile, researchers Karmasin found just 22 per cent of Austrians were pleased by the performance of the coalition since taking office in December 2008.Public opinion agency OGM said more than seven in 10 Austrians considered the 2011 state budget as unfair.One of the most disputed decisions of the coalition is to stop paying out family subsidies when children turn 24 instead of 26. Students’ representatives warned this measure would make it impossible for thousands of young people to finish their studies on time as they will be forced to work more while being registered at universities.ÖVP Finance Minister Josef Pröll said he could imagine making some adaptions and minor changes to the state budget, but refused to take back the measure.