VILNIUS - A convoy of trucks protesting rising fuel prices brought traffic near Siauliai, Lithuania's fourth largest city, to a halt on June 27. Around 70 trucks were involved in the go-slow protest in Siauliai, according to Anatoly Yakimov, an official from the national truckers association. Lithuanian Radio reported that 30 automobiles joined the convoy, which ultimately stretched 3 kilometers.
Sigitas Gideika, president of the Siauliai Truckers' Club, was quoted as saying that unless the situation changed, firms might block traffic on the country's main highways.
Protests against rapidly increasing fuel prices have reverberated around Western Europe in recent weeks, particularly in Spain and France.
It was also reported that Lithuanian truckers were planning a "go-slow protest" in Vilnius on July 2, after The Baltic Times went to press. Around 100 trucks were expected to join the protest.
The government, meanwhile, said its hands were tied and there were virtually no levers to change the situation.
"If the base oil price continues to rise, our efforts will be absolutely minimal," Anicetas Ignotas, undersecretary of the Economy Ministry, told the Versus magazine. He said that even if all the ministry's proposals were implemented, the net affect on the price of diesel would be a decline of up to 0.10 litas per liter (0.03 euro).
According to Ignotas, the Economy Ministry has taken measures to liberalize the fuel import market.
Specifically, it has proposed that the government exempt small oil product importers from the obligation to keep mandatory reserves, and the minimum quality requirements for imported fuel have been eased.
Data from Eurostat shows that Lithuania's average gasoline price before taxes is the 11th highest in the EU 27. Retail prices are among the lowest, however, since the country's excise tax rates are still below the minimum level required by the EU.