MAPUTO– The Mozambican government has announced increases in the prices of petrol and diesel, with effect from Thursday.

The price of petrol rises by 4.4 per cent, from 66.59 to 69.53 meticais per litre (from 1.13 to 1.18 US dollars, at current exchange rates). A litre of diesel will cost 64.66 meticais, an increase of 2.8 per cent on the current price of 62.92 meticais.

The price of LPG cooking gas (butane) rises by 1.3 per cent, from 60.33 to 61.13 meticais a per litre but there is no change in the price of kerosene, which remains at 50.33 meticais a litre. The price of compressed natural gas used in motor vehicles also remains unchanged at 31.97 meticais per litre.

Announcing the new prices at a media conference here Wednesday, the National Director of Fuels and Hydrocarbons, Moises Paulino, said the increases were necessary to ensure that Mozambique would not run out of fuel, since we know that 100 per cent of these petroleum products are imported. The government was making every effort to ensure continuity in fuel supplies, he added.

The general director of the fuel importing agency, IMOPETRO, Joao Macanja, had a more optimistic message � with the current stability of international oil prices, he believed there could be room to reduce the prices of liquid fuels on the Mozambican market in the near future.

Price changes in Mozambique lag behind international prices, since the government takes into account the average prices of the previous two months. Macanja said the changes announced on Wednesday were based on the average international prices of May and June.

In May the price of a barrel of oil had reached 80 US dollars, he said, but subsequently the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties (OPEC) had agreed to increase production. The rise in supply had pushed the price down to around 70 USD a barrel. This could allow the Mozambican government to reduce prices at the next monthly price review.