June 12, 2018 / 4:07 PM / 3 months ago

Bosnia's fuel distributors agree to cut prices after protests

SARAJEVO, June 12 (Reuters) - Fuel distributors in Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation agreed a deal with the regional government on Tuesday to cut fuel prices after drivers repeatedly blocked roads in protest against rising prices, a government minister said.

The Federation government decided to take action after traffic jams disrupted life in several Bosnian cities in recent days.

The decision to cut prices was also seen as a sweetener ahead of an October general election.

“We have reached a consensus there will be no further hikes of fuel prices,” Federation Trade Minister Zlatan Vujovic was quoted as saying by Fena news agency after his meeting with oil distributors in the southern town of Mostar.

“Fuel will be cheaper at some oil stations even from tomorrow,” said Vujovic, adding the government and the distributors had agreed on the rationalisation of operations and lower costs for distributors so that the prices could go down.

Fuel prices were first increased in February after a rise in biofuel excise taxes, and there have been two further increases, lifting the price of a litre of gasoline to 2.35 Bosnian marka (1.20 euros).

Officials have blamed the higher prices on global markets, where crude oil prices have been bolstered by a supply pact led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The government of Bosnia’s other autonomous region, the Serb Republic, said it would discuss the problem of rising fuel prices on Thursday.

Drivers have also blocked roads in major Serbian cities in recent days, protesting against prices that have risen to 1.24 euros ($1.46) for a litre of gasoline and 1.30 euros for a litre of diesel.

Protesters said prices should be kept under 1 euro a litre in Bosnia and Serbia, where average monthly pay is about 400 euros.

$1 = 0.8481 euros Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Potter

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