Bahrain's subsidy reductions bite: gas prices jump 60 percent

Published January 13th, 2016 - 11:05 GMT
Oman said it would reduce gasoline subsidies starting Friday, with prices set to rise by 33 percent for premium fuel and 23 percent for regular fuel.

The moves come as crude prices closed Monday at $31.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange — the lowest in 12 years.

On Tuesday, gas prices at the pump rose by up to 60 percent in Bahrain, climbing to $1.25 per gallon (125 fils per liter) for regular gasoline and $1.60 per gallon (165 fils per liter) for premium fuel. Hundreds of people lined up at gas stations a day earlier to fill their cars before the higher prices went into effect.

Meanwhile, a session of the Bahraini Parliament broke up amid shouting and protests on Tuesday when several lawmakers, in a rare show of opposition to government policy, vented their anger against a rise in fuel prices.

“The decision will make the poor poorer. We demand an improvement to people's standard of living, and what the government did yesterday will not achieve that,” MP Jamal Dawood said before the speaker adjourned the session.

“The decision ignored that there's a Parliament. We should resign,” said Mohammed Alamadi, another lawmaker. In a similarly rare outpouring of anger, around 20 protesters gathered at a petrol station in the village of Jidhafs, west of the capital Manama bearing placards.

Information Minister Isa Abdulrahman said the government wished to allay lawmakers' concerns.

“The government is ready to cooperate by listening to all points of view and will comply with any constitutional decree issued by the legislature in how to deal with the financial situation,” state media agency BNA quoted him as saying.

Bahrain ended subsidies on meat and poultry in October. It plans to make further cuts in electricity and water subsidies in March.


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