By José Rigane, Deputy Secretary of the CTA Autónoma and General Secretary of FeTERA
To the electricity price increase that started December 1, of which 43% is for Edenor and Edesur in Buenos Aires and 38% in the rest of the country, and the increase of up to 58% in gas, adds the recent 6% rate hike in fuels driven by YPF and followed by Shell and the other service stations.
It is the fourth increase in 2017 (January 8%, July 7%, October 10% and December 6%, with a drop of 1% in November) and so far this year the cumulative increment is 30.2%, well above inflation. In 2016, the total fuel price rise reached 31%, which means that since Macri and Aranguren are in the government, fuels prices went up by almost 62%.
This is one of the first decisions of companies after “freeing up the gasoline market”. This “liberalization” promoted by the Government through its energy minister, Juan José Aranguren, is to “equate the energy sector with the prices of the international market”.
This means that, being “freed up”, the prices of fuels will depend on the price of energy products on the stock exchanges of New York or London, for example. If we live in a “free” world, we move and live our lives in “freedom”: Why would not fuels and energy do the same?
As we have been affirming from the FeTERA, the increases along with the policy of “freeing” the prices of energy products to the laws of the market and “free” competition as well as eliminating state subsidies, as the number 1 rule of neoliberalism, is a fallacy.
The State continues to promote millionaire subsidies such as the Plan Gas to guarantee profits and business to oil companies, in particular producers such as Exxon, Total, Shell, PAE, Tecpetrol, YPF (51% state, but private since its management), among others.
Plan Gas is a measure that subsidizes gas production (more than 50% of the energy we consume in the country comes from that hydrocarbon) and guarantees a particular price for one million BTU to the oil companies. Specifically, the so called Plan Gas establishes subsidies and guarantees a price for 2018 of 7.5 dollars per million BTU, a fictitious price that clearly and directly benefits the multinational groups, since the cost of production, recognized by YPF on the New York Stock Exchange is $ 1.9 per million BTU.
Although the Plan Gas was promoted by the previous government to benefit oil companies in the Neuquén Basin (Vaca Muerta), today it is continuing and expanding to other productive basins such as the Austral Basin. That is, while Macri’s Government tells us that tariffs and fuels have to increase, at the same time guarantees a certain price of gas to oil companies through a state subsidy. In addition, it maintains and promotes tax benefits, advantages and everything companies need to guarantee their business.
Neoliberalism wants “free” prices, but they do not waste time to use the State to guarantee their business. It is the “freedom” of commodities.
From the FeTERA and the CTA Autónoma we denounce this energy policy, which is nothing more than a new state regulation so that the oil business continues to increment its profits.
Whether the international price of a barrel of oil increases o decreases, the Government of Macri and Aranguren will implement whatever they have to, so that the business of Exxon, Chevron, Total, Tecpetrol (Techint), PAE (Bulgheroni), CGC (Aurnekian) and many others accumulate more wealth with our natural resources.
We need to coordinate spaces that reject rate hikes but denounce the energy model as a whole. The rate hike is the consequence of the neoliberal model of energy which considers our resources as just another commodity.
Energy is a human right and in order to benefit the people and guarantee the people’s Access to it, we need to tear down this energy model that has on the same side of the counter the oil companies and the Ministry of Energy promoting “market freedom”, but are at the same time, the same oil companies that live off state subsidies paid by the working people.