Home | News    Sunday 3 July 2005

Petrol prices hit two dollar a litre in Eritrea

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ASMARA, July 3 (AFP) — Fuel prices in Eritrea over the weekend went up again by 28 percent as world crude oil prices continue to remain high, officials said Sunday.

The third increase in nearly 10 months brings petrol prices to 32 nakfa (2.13 dollars, 1.8 euros a litre), while that of diesel remained unchanged and retails at 12.6 nakfa (0.84 dollars, 0.7 euros) a litre.

Fuel prices began getting high last October and were hiked again in April this year, a move authorities in the tiny Horn of African blame on continuing rise in global crude oil prices that surged Friday by 2.25 dollars (1.8 euros) to close at 58.75 dollars (49.1 euros) a barrel in New York.

Diplomats say Eritrea is currently faced with a foreign currency shortage which has affected fuel imports, while since February private companies have no right to import oil.

"Because the government lacks currency and wants us to leave our dollars in the Eritrean banks," said one trader.

The country is also facing shortages of a number of basic commodities, including sugar and in May government opened shops to retail food at reduced prices.

Per capita income in Eritrea, one of the world’s poorest nations which relies entirely on oil imports for fuel, is only about 130 dollars (100 euros) and the country has been in a sustained economic downturn for several years.

After the 30-year 1961 to 1991 independence struggle against Ethiopia, the economy was devastated by the border conflict with its larger neighbor between 1998 and 2000.

In January, Eritrea introduced new financial controls intended to boost the economy that require all monetary transactions to be conducted in the nafka and all foreign currency to be exchanged at the national bank at the official rate.

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