Greece suspends fuel prices caps

Greece will suspend a cap on petrol prices imposed to protect consumers from price-gouging after a court ruling suspended a strike by customs officials that had been expected to disrupt fuel supplies, the government said on Sunday.

The cap, which took effect from early Saturday to coincide with a planned walkout by customs officers responsible for clearing refinery deliveries, will be suspended from Monday, the development and environment ministries said.

"We are monitoring and checking prices every day and in any case we consider it necessary, we will intervene again," the ministries said in a statement.

Customs officials called a 10-day strike on October 14 to protest at planned wage cuts, which are part of an austerity package that is scheduled to pass parliament next week.

But they were forced to return to their jobs a few hours later after a Greek court ruled their walkout illegal. Their union has called a new 24-hour strike for Monday.

If the walkout continues for long, it is expected to lead to fuel shortages, because deliveries from refiners to gas stations usually require customs clearance.

Fuel price caps are not unusual in Greece, especially in tourism-heavy areas during the summer holiday season. But the measure is seldom applied nationwide.

Retail prices for fuel have jumped by as much as 50 percent in Greece since the government raised fuel taxes last year under terms of a bailout organized by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Source: Reuters

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