x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Petrol price cut query prompts debate

While some FNC members are backing a universal cut to control inflation, others are concerned about the cost to the Government, calling instead for fuel price cuts to be limited to nationals.

ABU DHABI // Since the FNC raised the topic of the UAE's petrol prices - the highest in the GCC - last week, social networks have been buzzing with discussion about how best to bring down prices.

And the main question, for FNC members and the public, has been who should benefit.

The Minister of Energy, Mohammed Al Hamli, told the council that the Government was already supporting the sector but members argued more should be done.

Before they agreed on passing a recommendation to the Government for the reduction, however, they decided a committee should to be formed to consider whether prices should be cut only for Emiratis or for everyone.

While some members concentrated on the need to control inflation, which weighed in favour of a universal cut, others were concerned about the cost to the Government of such a move, calling instead for price cuts to be limited to nationals.

The debate has since moved to the internet, with the Dubai FNC members Hamad Al Rahoumi and Marwan bin Ghalita asking Emiratis to share their thoughts.

Hamad Al Shamsi - "alshamsi789" - suggested Emiratis should be given a petrol allowance.

But Mr Al Rahoumi feared that could lead to a black market with nationals trading allowances.

Some members have found their email inboxes flooded with other suggestions and invitations to majalis to continue the debate.

"We have received a lot of response on this," said Mr bin Ghalita. "Everyone is talking about this issue.

"Some think about it economically, some through the Government, others think about it in the long run.

"It is a very critical issue for a lot of people. It was a good move by the FNC to discuss it."

Many have come up with good ideas, Mr bin Ghalita said. And although the committee had yet to meet, its members were already working on individual research.

"This is not going to be easy, there will be a lot of challenges," Mr bin Ghalita said. "The minister said there is support now, and for more support there will be more liabilities."

He said he believed any reduction should benefit everyone.

"A reduction should be gradual - whether for locals or not - everyone should benefit," Mr bin Ghalita said. "They all contribute to the economy."