Rejected Fuel Sector Cartel in Bulgaria Sparks Mixed Reactions
Bulgaria's Commission on Protection of Competition (KZK) is an independent body and fuel prices are determined by the trends on international markets and the value of the US dollar, according to Energy and Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev.
In a Tuesday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) Dobrev commented the decision of the anti-trust watchdog stating that there is no fuel market cartel and wholesale prices of fuels do not need to be published.
"The entire European market is perfectly competitive. This is an indicator which can very easily show us whether any market-distorting principles are at play on the Bulgarian market," Dobrev said.
"What needs to be done is to compare fuel prices in Bulgaria to the rates in the other EU countries, rather than analyze paperwork, gather invoices and check price-setting mechanisms applied by fuel companies in the country, by filling stations and by producers," Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister emphasized.
"When VAT and excise duty remain unchanged throughout the year in the different countries, this means that the impact of crude oil prices and the value of the US dollar in each country was the same," he added.
"Despite the KZK decision, Bulgarian consumers feel that prices are almost identical at filling stations all over the country," Bogomil Nikolov, Executive Director of the Active Consumers Association argued in an interview for BNR.
"The decision of KZK is supposed to mean that in Bulgaria there is a perfectly competitive fuel market, Nikolov said in a Tuesday interview for BNR.
Bulgaria's competition authority ruled Monday that there was no cartel agreement in Bulgaria's fuel sector and Lukoil was not abusing its dominant market position.
"People will hardly agree with that. The fact that no cartel agreement was detected in the fuel sector transfers some of the responsibility onto the government," he added.
Meanwhile, Andrey Delchev, Chair of the Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association (BPGA), argued that the KZK decision had come as no surprise.
The Chair of the BPGA, which brings together the largest fuel distributors in the country, claimed that the KZK ruling was proof of the watchdog's professionalism.
He expressed his satisfaction over the fact that the Commission had dispelled accusations persistently leveled at some of the BPGA members.
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