Riyadh has sealed 68 gas stations across the kingdom for hoarding fuel on the night of 31 December, ahead of the formal announcement of hike in fuel prices.
"We have sealed 68 gas stations across the kingdom for refusing to supply fuel to consumers on Sunday night", the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment said in a statement issued on 1 January, carried by local daily Saudi Gazette.
The ministry said it carried out an inspection of 1,597 gas stations to ascertain whether those were supplying fuel to consumers or were closed in anticipation of the price hike.
The ministry has also affirmed that it will continue to monitor the kingdom’s establishments around the clock for potential price manipulations or fraudulent attempts.
The ministry mentioned that it had made all necessary arrangements in cooperation with government authorities, including security agencies, to monitor gas stations and penalise violators.
Earlier, state oil giant Saudi Aramco had said it had taken all steps to supply sufficient quantities of fuel.
Saudi Arabia raised consumer fuel prices, effective from 1 January, to insulate the economy from the financial pressures of lavish fuel subsidies, and address a significant deficit in the national budget, which have been caused by below par oil prices in recent years.
The Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources has announced plans to increase the price of Octane 91 by 82 per cent fuel from SR0.75 a litre to SR1.37 a litre, and 95 Octane from SR 0.90 a litre to SR2.04 a litre, a spike of 126 per cent. The price of diesel for transport however remains unchanged.
The new prices also includes Value Added Tax (VAT), which the kingdom introduced from 1 January, along with the UAE.
MEED had reported last month that Saudi Arabia would most likely reduce fuel subsidies that would lead to a rise in the prices of petrol products and jet fuel.
Meanwhile, gas stations across the kingdom witnessed huge crowds of motorists on the new year’s eve night, hours before the announcement of the fuel price hike. According to the Saudi Gazette, news of the price increase became viral on social media and numerous vehicles were spotted in long queues at gas stations.
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