After the ministerial shake-up of the government of Gustavo Petro, just nine months after the start of his term, Ricardo Bonilla was appointed as the new Minister of Finance, replacing José Antonio Ocampo.
(Also read: Gasoline, among the 5 expenses that are weighing the most on the high cost of living).
The new leader of the Treasury portfolio referred, in dialogue with blue morningsto one of the issues that, after Ocampo’s departure, most worries citizens: the price of gasoline, which had an increase of $400 in April and, apparently, will continue to rise.
“We are going to respect the fiscal rule, but we have to review the behavior of the Fuel Price Stabilization Fund, which is the one that has broken it. It means that gasoline prices have to go up, as planned, until it is verified again with the international price,” Bonilla said.
According to the new finance minister, the price of gasoline should reach $16,000. This, according to what he said, will be done gradually and as a consequence of a billionaire «hole» left by the previous government.
(Keep reading: In seven months, the rise in the price of gasoline adds up to $2,000 a gallon.)
“President (Iván) Duque did not raise it, he left us a gap of 30 billion pesos. That is the hole that is healing. The price of current gasoline must reach the order of 15, 16,000 pesos. But it will arrive in three years, ”he explained.
With the increase in value to the public, the Fuel Price Stabilization Fund (FEPC) would be balanced, a mechanism that, as its name indicates, aims to stabilize fuel prices for consumers, taking into account both national and international costs.
According to Julio César Vera -president of Xua Energy-, in dialogue with Briefcasethe Government must maintain the path of definitions to close the gap between the payment made by consumers and the real value of fuels.
(Of interest: Oil prices are rising after the Opec+ announcement. What measure did you take?).
Faced with whether the rise in gasoline will have an impact on inflation, Bonilla was insistent on the need to fill the void in the FEPC: “Inflation is going down in food and what keeps it in universe 13 today is the price of gasoline. What we need to bring down is all the inflation of food and other goods. But we have to continue covering the gap left by the Gasoline Stabilization Fund”.
Although, for the moment, the cost of fuel for cargo vehicles will not rise, the new finance minister did not rule out the «revision of the gasoline fund formula.»
Gasoline prices on the rise
Gasoline is one of the expenses that could be weighing the most on the cost of living of Colombians: it contributes 0.4 points of increases, like the imputed rent, in the family basket.
Only in the month of April, it had an increase of 400 Colombian pesos. The cost to the public in the main cities of the country, except in Pasto and the rest of the department of Nariño, was $11,167 per gallon, according to information from the Ministry of Mines and Energy. For January, this same price was located at $10,253.
On the other hand, during this first half of the year, diesel prices remained on average at $9,065 in the 13 main cities.
«Had not counted on the operation of the FEPC so far in 2023, the price of regular gasoline and ACPM would have been, on average, more than $4,500 and $8,700 above the current average sales price per gallon , respectively», indicated the authorities regarding the measures taken.
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