The prices of fuel in Armenia have risen by an additional five percent within the past several days, adding to the already strong inflationary pressures on the domestic economy.
Gas stations across capital Yerevan sold petrol for between 490 and 540 drams ($1.25-1.35) per liter on Tuesday, raising concerns among local motorists that fuel prices would continue to go up.
While Armenia’s State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition announced the launch of a probe into the recent behavior of petrol and diesel fuel prices, local fuel importers typically blamed the price hike on the surge in oil prices that they said had taken place on the international market in recent months.
Mushegh Elchian, the marketing vice president of the Flash company, one of Armenia’s leading fuel importers and retailers, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday that fuel prices in Armenia would continue to rise during the next few weeks as so far they have not fully reflected the recent global trends.
“World petrol prices have risen by 26.3 percent since January, while in Armenia the rise during the same period has constituted only 11.1 percent. Today we consume the earlier imported fuel that had been purchased at a lower price,” Elchian explained.
Meanwhile, some economic analysts named also other reasons for rising fuel prices, including expectations of a further depreciation of Armenia’s national currency.
Still, the Flash company’s representative asserted that petrol price increases have stopped being a matter of great social concern in Armenia as most of the country’s motorists prefer using the much cheaper liquefied petroleum gas as fuel for their vehicles. Prices for liquefied petroleum gas, he said, remain unchanged.
“Those who use petrol for their cars are people with higher-than-average incomes, while more than 80 percent of vehicles in Armenia today are operated with liquefied petroleum gas,” he said, stressing that in conditions like this an increase in petrol prices cannot have any strong effect on general inflation.
Fuel imports remain one of the lucrative forms of economic activity in Armenia that lacks carbohydrate resources of its own.