OPEC secretary general blasts European governments over fuel taxes
OPEC secretary general Rilwanu Lukman on Wednesday blasted European governments for imposing heavy taxes on oil products and said they, not OPEC, should be blamed for the high fuel prices sparking consumer protests.
"These high prices sparked a wave of protests from consumers around the globe, many of whom wrongly blame OPEC for the inflated petrol prices and heating costs they are now having to pay," Lukman told a petroleum meeting here.
"This is an unfair accusation, since the reasons behind the recent oil price hikes do not fall solely at the Orgaization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC's) door," he said.
"One of the reasons why the motorist in Europe is complaining so bitterly...is due to the exorbitant level of taxation placed on petroleum products by regional governments, some as high as 80 percent of the pump price," he charged.
The oil producers, Lukman said, only derive a 16 percent take from the refined oil sold in Europe.
"The governments of these countries (the EU) say they are loathe to cut taxation levels on fuel because the money generated is vital for their environmental health budgets.
"But at the same time these very same authorities are subsidizing coal, a known heavy polluter.
"Is it then fair for the budgets of our (OPEC) member countries, who rely so heavily on a single commodity for their livelihoods and development, to suffer alone?" he asked.
"Should we continue to sacrifice and shoulder the burden for the future of oil, while others conveniently sit back and watch their treasuries swell from increasing taxation, while pointing the finger for action at the very source that keeps the wheels of their industries turning ...I think not."
Lukman praised Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato for his criticim of other industrialized countries for "not doing more to help oil producers in the developing world, when prices sank to a mere 10 dollars a barrel during the most recent price slump."
Lukman accused EU heads of government and finance ministers of "acting irresponsibly" towards OPEC nations.EU finance ministers had even, he said: "criticized their fellow EU member France for implementing a small 15 percent reduction on the fuel tarriff as 'opening your national budget to OPEC and the oil industry'."
The whole issue of taxation, he added, would be on the agenda of the producers and consumers' meeting in Saudi Arabia in November.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)