(Reuters, 9.Apr.2019) — Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he would consider creating a chain of government gas stations if existing fuel outlets did not charge “fair prices,” as he seeks to make good on a campaign vow to ensure stable fuel rates.
Benchmark gasoline prices have been rising this year in line with increases in prices for crude oil, the main input for gasoline and diesel.
Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, has promised to keep prices from rising above inflation and has repeatedly pledged he will not allow price hikes for fuel.
Mexico’s government adjusts fuel taxes on a weekly basis in an effort to avoid abrupt changes in prices for consumers, but cannot completely mitigate shifts in international crude prices.
Lopez Obrador urged gas stations to offer lower prices by trimming their profit margins. He also said the government would publicize which gas stations had the lowest prices.
“To reach our goal of no price increases, we would consider creating a network of gas stations … enough so that stations sell at fair prices,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular news briefing Tuesday.
The leftist has lashed out at his predecessor’s decision to abruptly end long-standing fuel subsidies, a move that boosted prices. The sticker shock triggered protests and looting across Mexico that severely hurt ex-president Enrique Pena Nieto’s popularity and contributed to his party’s electoral defeat.
Lopez Obrador routinely criticizes Pena Nieto’s landmark energy opening that ended a decades-old monopoly of state oil company Pemex and did away with government-set fuel prices. The reform also opened Mexico’s retail fuel market beyond Pemex, ushering in numerous gasoline retailers to the local market such as Exxon Mobil and BP.