The prices of gasoline in Armenia have risen by an additional 5 percent since Tuesday, adding to the already strong inflationary pressures on the domestic economy.
Petrol stations across Yerevan sold gasoline for between 450 and 500 drams ($1.2-1.35) per liter on Wednesday, a roughly 20 percent increase from the late-December level.
Armenian fuel importers blame the price hike on a surge in international oil prices that has been observed in recent months.
Mushegh Elchian, the chief executive of the Flash company, one of Armenia’s leading fuel importers and retailers, predicted the latest hike in an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service last week. He said Flash and other major importers have purchased new, more expensive batches of fuel that will reach the country within days.
Ashot Salazarian, the executive director of CPS, another major player in the local fuel market, said they have no choice but to adjust their retail prices accordingly.
The State Commission on the Protection of Economic Competition said it is closely monitoring the situation. Its deputy chairman, Pavel Ghaltakhchian, urged Flash, CPS and other fuel companies to “restrain their appetites.”
Fuel imports is one of the lucrative forms of economic activity in the country which is effectively controlled by a handful of wealthy government-linked entrepreneurs.
The rising petrol prices could complicate the Armenian authorities’ efforts to curb inflation which reached an annual rate of 11.5 percent in March. The consumer price index has been mainly pushed up by food prices until now.