ECONOMY

Zagreb avoids fuel market intervention

ZAGREB (Reuters) – The Croatian government said yesterday it saw no reason yet to intervene directly to tame fuel prices, but it asked state oil concern INA to make increases as low as possible. The government said in June it would intervene in the local petrol market if the price of unleaded fuel surpassed eight kuna (1.09 euros) The price of one liter of that fuel reached 7.98 kuna yesterday. «We asked INA to raise prices in such a way that would not negatively affect its profitability but would also not jeopardize living standards and cause higher costs in the economy as a whole,» state news agency Hina quoted the government’s spokesman Ratko Macek as saying. INA is 25-percent owned by Hungary’s MOL. The government plans to privatize up to a further 15 percent by next spring as it struggles to fill state coffers and narrow the budget deficit. Macek said the government had also asked INA to use internal reserves to mitigate rising business costs due to high world oil prices. «There is no need to cut excise duties on petrol products yet, but the government has mechanisms to intervene if fuel prices continue to rise,» Macek told Hina. He did not elaborate. The government said last September it would not allow petrol prices to remain freely set by the market if high prices persist. A liter of unleaded fuel then cost 7.40 kuna.