Myanmar junta makes rare fuel price pledge: state media
( AFP ) - Myanmar's military regime has promised to hold fuel prices at current levels, state media reported Tuesday, amid rumours of a hike similar to that which sparked last year's unprecedented mass protests.
"The sales of fuel to petrol and diesel vehicles will remain as usual," the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.
The junta hardly ever announces fuel price movements, but the announcement that prices would remain steady came amid swirling rumours of an increase.
Last August, a massive and unannounced price hike left many people in this impoverished nation unable even to afford the bus fare to work.
It unleashed protests that snowballed into the biggest threat to the junta in nearly 20 years, led notably by Buddhist monks.
The regime hit back in September with a violent repression that the United Nations said left at least 31 people dead and 74 missing.
A taxi driver in the commercial hub Yangon said the regime appeared to have made the latest announcement in a bid to avoid a repeat of the unrest.
"It seems authorities want to avoid another uprising caused by an increase in fuel prices," the driver said.
"Anyway, we are happy that we can continue our job without worrying" about the price of fuel.
At state-owned gas stations, one gallon of gasoline costs 2,500 kyats (two dollars), up nearly 70 percent after the August hike. In the black market, a gallon costs 5,000 kyats (four dollars).
But few people can afford to own cars in Myanmar, which remains one of the world's poorest nations.