The consumer watchdog here has accused some petrol companies of profiteering, after petrol prices across the island were raised yesterday by up to S$0.25 for a litre of 98-octane grade petrol and as much as S$0.18 for 95-octane grade petrol — a day after it was announced in the Budget statement that petrol duty rates would be increased with immediate effect.
Noting that some of the petrol prices were raised beyond the levels of the duty hike, Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), said it was understandable for the petrol companies to increase prices following the levy hike. But he pointed out: “They should not increase more than what the tax requires them to and if they do that, they are profiteering from the situation.”
As of last night, a litre of 98-octane-grade petrol at Shell cost S$2.28 — S$0.25 more than on Monday. Other brands also adjusted their prices, with Caltex, Esso and Singapore Petroleum Company (SPC) charging S$2.25, S$2.23 and S$2.20, respectively. The increment ranged between S$0.17 and S$0.21 for the three brands.
For 95-octane-grade petrol, which is most popular with drivers, Shell raised the price by S$0.18 to S$2.04 per litre. The other three brands raised their prices to S$2.01 or S$2.02 — with the increases ranging between S$0.12 and S$0.16.
“(The) pump price adjustments reflect the increase in petrol duties as announced in the 2015 Budget,” said a spokesperson from Chevron, which owns the Caltex brand. The other brands could not be reached for comment by press time.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced on Monday that petrol duty rates would increase by S$0.20 to S$0.64 per litre for the premium grade and by S$0.15 to S$0.56 per litre for the intermediate grade. To cushion the impact of the hike, motorists would be given a one-off road tax rebate for a year. Mr Tharman noted that with falling oil prices, pump prices after the duty hikes would remain lower than the levels in the past two-and-a-half years.
Salesman Andrew Koh, 58, welcomed the road tax rebate, but felt it was not enough to mitigate the higher petrol prices. “I was happy when crude oil prices started falling … But now, all the drivers are going to suffer from the increase in levy and petrol prices,” he said.
Yesterday, Mr Tharman said the taxes related to vehicle ownership and usage would have to be adjusted from time to time, to create a greener environment. Adding that the previous adjustment to petrol levies was done a dozen years ago, he said it was better to raise duties when oil prices are falling, compared with the opposite situation. It was also unlikely the duty hikes would filter down to overall consumer prices as commercial vehicles use diesel, he said. As for middle-income families who own cars, Mr Tharman said other measures in the Budget could alleviate the cost of living.