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Vakhtang Lemonjava, MP from the United National Movement, made a speech during the debate on the economy held on 1 October 2013 in the Parliament. The MP discussed fuel prices and stated: “First we heard talks about one lari of the fuel tariff being pocketed by certain individuals. Later, this one lari turned into 50 tetri and, finally, today, we are faced with the price of fuel being raised by two-to-ten tetri,

depending on the type of fuel, in all companies:  Lukoil, Wissol, Gulf.”

FactCheck

inquired whether or not the prices of fuel had indeed increased relative to the previous year.

Oil products are being imported and made available on the Georgian market by five major companies; namely, Lukoil, Gulf, Rompetrol, Wissol and Socar. Out of these companies only the national Azeri oil company, Socar, imports oil exclusively from Azerbaijan while the others bring oil into Georgia from various European countries.

The fuel price on the retail market is to be determined according to what one ton of fuel is worth on the international market. In 2012,the average price of petrol in Georgia was equal to GEL 2.13 for Regular, GEL 2.23 for Premium and GEL 2.28 for Super.

As of 1 September 2012, a ton of petroleum was worth GEL 1,050 on the international market while in Georgia the price for one litre totalled GEL 2.12. On 6 October 2012, after the leader of the Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili met with businessmen and expressed his concerns with regard to the existing high prices of fuel, Wissol lowered prices on all sorts of petroleum in the company’s petrol stationsby eight tetri but prices in the petrol stations of Gulf and the rest of the companies remained unchanged. In the article of the newspaper 24 Saati

published on 9 October 2012, the representatives of those companies discussed the reasons for not lowering prices on petrol.

It is of interest to mention the statement made by Levan Izoria, member of the Free Democrats political party (presently part of the Georgian Dream) prior to the elections of 1 October 2012. Izoria claims the prices of fuel in Georgia to be artificially raised relative to the existing prices on the international market. On 10 February 2012, Levan Izoria even held a briefing specifically on the matter of the monopoly in the petroleum business. He blamed the government of that time and the former officials connected with it for having inflated realistic fuel prices by 50 tetri. The data published on the official website of Gulf, depicting an archive of fuel prices for 2012-2013, demonstrates a drop in the prices of fuel in December of 2012 followed by an increase in the period between February and March of 2013. Starting from 18 September 2012 the prices of petrol saw a decrease of five-to-tentetri, while in April 2013 the prices of all sorts of petroleum dropped by three-to-five tetri. On 20 September 2013, the prices went up by seven-to-ten tetri relative to the previously lowered prices while on 28 September the price of Premium petrol shrank by two tetri and Regular and Euro Regular by six tetri.

In our inquiry we can weigh the prices of fuel for September of 2012 against those of 2013 based upon the data published on the website of the Union of the Countries Importing Oil Products to Georgia.

As of September 2012, the average retail price of fuel equalled:

Super Petroleum – 2.33 GEL/litre

Premium Petroleum – 2.26-2.28 GEL/litre

Euro Regular Petroleum – 2.12-2.17 GEL/litre

Regular Petroleum – 2.12 GEL/litre

As of September 2013, the average retail price of fuel equalled:

Super Petroleum – 2.20-2.23 GEL/litre

Premium Petroleum – 2.15-2.17 GEL/litre

Euro Regular Petroleum – 1.99-2.05 GEL/litre

Regular Petroleum – 1.99-2.00 GEL/litre

Conclusion Since the change of the government the price of fuel has not decreased either by GEL 1 or by 50 tetri. A minor decrease in the prices has been observed but the claims by Lemonjava asserting that the prices went up proved to be incorrect. As demonstrated by the research, in September of 2013 retail prices of petroleum sank by ten-to-11 tetri relative to the similar period of the previous year. It is also to be noted that prices went up in the middle of September but solely in comparison to the lowest figures of the year and this increase was immediately followed by a drop in prices at the end of September. Accordingly, we conclude that Vakhtang Lemonjava’s statement: “First we heard talks about one lari of the fuel tariff being pocketed by certain individuals. Later, this one lari turned into 50 tetri and, finally, today, we are faced with the price of fuel being raised by two-to-ten tetri, depending on the type of fuel, in all companies:  Lukoil, Wissol, Gulf,” is MOSTLY FALSE.