No evidence of collusion among petrol retailers in Singapore: Tan See Leng

Pump prices remain volatile and market watchers are expecting crude oil prices to remain high. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There is no evidence of collusion among petrol retailers here, and the movement of pump prices have so far largely mirrored changes in crude oil prices, said Second Minister for Trade and Industry Tan See Leng on Monday (April 4).

As at end-March, crude oil prices were about 40 per cent higher than in January, while the price of petrol was on average 15 per cent higher and diesel was 30 per cent dearer, Dr Tan said in a ministerial statement in Parliament.

Should there be any evidence of anti-competitive behaviour, such as coordinated price increases, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore will take firm enforcement action, including fines for offending companies, Dr Tan added.

"I would like to assure the House that the Government keeps a close watch on the prices of essential goods and services and will not hesitate to investigate anti-competitive behaviour," he said.

Petrol prices here climbed to $3 or more a litre here in early March, as oil prices breached US$130 ($176) per barrel amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and fears that Europe and the United States could ban Russian oil imports.

With oil prices now easing, pump prices have fallen, with all brands of 92-octane fuel and one 95-octane brand dipping below $3 as at Monday.

Pump prices, however, remain volatile and market watchers are expecting crude oil prices to remain high.

On Monday, Workers' Party MP Louis Chua (Sengkang GRC) asked Dr Tan to explain why petrol prices have risen so much, noting that pump prices for 95-octane petrol was going for about $2.20 and $2.40 a litre the last time Brent crude oil crossed the US$100 mark between 2012 and 2014.

In response, Dr Tan said it was not an apples-to-apples comparison as other fixed costs, such as rental and manpower costs, have risen.

"We've been monitoring the fluctuation of (pump) prices against Brent. We find that it (hasn't) gone up excessively," he added.

To deter unreasonable pricing, Dr Tan cited initiatives such as the Price Kaki application and Fuel Kaki website, which were developed by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) to allow consumers to easily compare the effective prices of groceries, hawker food items and pump prices.

Case will be enhancing the Price Kaki app to enable users to compare the prices of similar grocery items by weight and volume, Dr Tan said.

"This will help consumers make better purchasing decisions where retailers choose to maintain prices but reduce the quantity of products," he added.

Dr Tan also sought to assure MPs that measures are in place to ensure that Singapore has adequate fuel supplies, including petroleum.

However, he did not provide specifics, citing security reasons.

The minister urged companies in fuel intensive sectors, such as the transport and logistics sector, to tap various government grants and programmes to improve their energy efficiency and make their operations greener.

The Government is studying various measures to help these businesses make the transition, such as expanding the range of supportable solutions or making it easier for businesses to apply for existing grants, Dr Tan said.

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