The Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB), Belgium’s national Marxist party, delivered a petition signed by 100,000 people to the office of Prime Minister Alexander de Croo on June 1, according to a party press release.
The PTB is calling not only for a freeze on fuel prices but also advocates a maximum price of €1.40 per litre of fuel. President of the PTB, Raoul Hedebouw, personally delivered the boxes of petitions to the Belgian administration.
“Petrol hits a record €2.138 per litre tomorrow. The explosion in prices is untenable for workers and their families. Almost half of what we pay at the pump goes into the pockets of the government,” Hedebouw stated.
Last year, the PTB estimated that rising fuel prices generated an additional €547 million in revenue for the state. Both consumers and petrol stations are struggling to keep up with the high price of petrol and diesel.
Transport organisation Febetra has already warned that customers will foot the bill for rising fuel prices. Maximum price controls already mean that many petrol stations are unable to make any profits.
The PTB states that recent cuts to excise duty on petrol made by the government are not enough. The party is calling for a fixed price cap for petrol and the complete abolition of government taxes on fuel.
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“Let’s abolish excise duties and freeze fuel prices at a maximum of €1.40 per litre. In Germany, they have just decided on a reduction of €0.35 per litre. It is still insufficient but at least they are taking action. This is what we are asking of the Federal Government. It can take the necessary measures today to bring the price back to €1.40 per litre,” said the party leader.
Taxing the rich
In order to finance this measure, the party proposes levying a tax on the profits of multinational oil companies.
While customers have struggled with prices at the pumps, oil companies have massively profited during the war in Ukraine. British oil company Shell made $9.1 billion in profits in the first three months of the year, with American ExxonMobil making $5.48 billion.
“Big companies like Total, Shell, or Exxon are making huge excess profits, partly through speculation. The champagne is flowing while the population is finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. We can no longer continue like this,” Hedebouw stated.
The PTB finds the current actions of the Federal Government insufficient to tackle the current fuel crisis. In March, the reduction amounted to just €0.17. “Miserable” the PTB esteems.
“The population massively supports our petition… Prime Minister Alexander De Croo wants to wait until mid-June for the conclusions of his group of experts. But now is when people want an answer.”
Belgium’s Marxist party has vowed to continue its pressure on the government until it achieves a “real drop in prices.”