Petrol station owners, members of GRTU, are meeting to decide possible actions after no agreement was reached with the Government on increases in fuel profits. GRTU petrol stations secretary, James Meli, told TVM that the 2011 increase given to owners to modernize the petrol stations is not enough, adding that the increase in the number of petrol stations in the country is making their situation more difficult. On the other hand, Energy Minister Joe Mizzi said that the Government offered an increase to petrol stations, however it is against that the increase is carried by consumers.
The government-petrol stations owners issue is that the increase will give them the chance to commit their obligation to modernize the stations according to European standards. The issue began in 2011 when an agreement was reached with the Government granting an increase of eight mills in every litre in their profits.
GRTU section secretary, James Meli, said that a part of the increase was meant to compensate for the investment they committed themselves to modernize the petrol stations. “If modernization is not ready by 2020 there is a chance that even some of us may loose licence and cannot continue operating because they are not according to EU standards. We are in favour of this refurbishment; the problem is that when calculations were made in 2011, with the few mills we were granted, this calculations today have raised expenses to have a petrol station with all the requisites being demanded by ERA and REWS, that we ended up over passing all limits”.
There are currently 77 petrol stations in Malta, of which Mr Meli said that only 27 made the modernization they committed themselves to eight years ago. At the same time, the Planning Authority has some 15 pending applications for the building of more petrol stations.
James Meli added “if these are issued, I hope that the new restricted policy comes quickly into force because the more petrol stations, the more our cake is reduced and it will not be feasible to make such an investment”.
According to a study commissioned in 2014, Mr Meli said that the increased presented to the Government is 2.5 cents for every litre fuel they sell and said that there are mechanisms so that it is not carried by consumers. However, Energy Minister, Joe Mizzi, said that the Government is ready to discuss, but cannot accept a request because it is detrimental to consumers.
“As a Government, we offered an increase above that of 2011, and we offered this increase because it is not a burden on families and businesses”, Mr Mizzi said.
In the eventuality of lack of agreement, the petrol stations owners are considering various actions, which Mr Meli said may be announced in the coming hours or days.