CORRESPONDENT IN LISBON
The price of gasoline has risen so much in Portugal in just a few months that the figure is devastating: 20 times more than wages over the last year. A circumstance that despairs the Iberian neighbors in the midst of a pandemic, with a galloping economic crisis and less than encouraging prospects.
But the figures reflect this, they do not admit a doubt. On the one hand, the increase in fuel has reached 24.8%, counting from mid-2020 and valuing until yesterday, Monday, May 24. On the other, salary cuts in companies are counted by an average of 7%, although in many cases it is much higher. To make matters worse, these are companies that sometimes apply the reduction drastically even if their benefits have only been diminished, but not cut off completely.
The fact is that the mismatch between what gasoline costs and what a worker receives has been 30% open and places a large group of families in a very compromised situation.
Thus, Portugal ranks as the fifth country in the European Union where it costs more to fill the tank, because now 1.60 euros per liter has to be disbursed. The leader in this table is the Netherlands with 1.78 euros, that is to say, the distance is not that much, but that gap does widen when comparing the wage indices of both countries.
In addition, the gasoline bill is overloaded with indirect taxes in Portuguese lands to the point that, when a person puts 100 euros of fuel to carbure the engine of his vehicle, he has to know that 60 of them do not correspond to the real price Instead, they cover the rates established by the socialist government.
The result is an economic pressure that irritates Portuguese citizens and has already led to a consequence: thousands of people living in the border areas bordering Spain. do not hesitate to cross to Huelva, Badajoz, Cáceres, Salamanca, Zamora, Orense or Pontevedra to stock up on the energy 'food' that their car needs, since prices are lower and it is worth the trip to fill the tank.
The current average cost in Spain is 1.35 euros, which represents about 25 cents less per liter. If the user in question resides near the border area, it pays off.
This is exactly what has been happening in recent years (except for the three months in which the border was closed, of course), who pass from one side to the other with the intention of becoming protagonists of a kind of 'tourism of the gasoline 'that benefits the establishments closest to the Portuguese territory.
This is easily appreciated in Ayamonte, where residents of Castro Marim, a beautiful town just 10 kilometers away, disembark for this purpose. Or in Badajoz, which receives dozens of inhabitants from Campo Maior or Elvas, only 19 kilometers away.
And the same happens from Vilar Formoso to Ciudad Rodrigo, 31 kilometers apart, or from Chaves to Verín (30), to name certain examples of this trend, which is repeated every day along the 1,214 kilometers of common border.
The president of the Portuguese Business Association, Luis Miguel Ribeiro, sends a serious warning to the Executive led by the Socialist Prime Minister, Antonio Costa: "In the short and medium term, these prices will cost us a setback in exports." And he adds: «Companies have absorbed the increased cost of transport, but they will not be able to continue doing so. For this reason, we will soon see that the price of the vast majority of products rises ».
When the Portuguese see on the news that oil is collapsing in international markets due to different circumstances, they are astonished that other countries are lowering gasoline prices, as is acceptable ... and yet, none of that happens in the homeland. of fado. Why? Precisely because 60% of what they pay is due to indirect taxes, that is, an amount that is not subject to any type of variation because it is fixed by the Government.
In the final economic weight of the invoice, one of the items belongs to the costs associated with the raw material: both to the extraction and to the process followed in oil refineries. This band represents 28%, about 2.8 euros, but increases to 14 in the event that the deposit is filled with 50 euros, perhaps the most demanded measurement.
Storage, distribution and marketing are settled with eight cents for every 10 euros and with four euros if it rises to those 50, while the new tax on biofuels absorbs two cents, translated into one euro when the request is increased by the terms indicated.