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Qatar raises petrol prices to combat budget deficit

The 30 percent petrol price increase was issued with only a few hours notice
Drivers around the country were told only few hours before the midnight deadline (AFP)

Qatar has decided to raise the cost of petrol by at least a third beginning on Friday amid a slump in global oil prices.

The surprise price rise goes into effect at midnight (2100 GMT) and has led to long lines at some petrol stations in Qatar, according to social media.

Fuel stations around the country delivered statements merely a few hours before the midnight deadline.

The edict, issued by the state-run fuel company Woqod, is dated on 14 January and signed by its executive director Ibrahim Jaham al-Kuwari.

A Woqod representative confirmed the price rise to Doha News, an online English publication based in Qatar.

Prices for regular petrol will increase to 1.30 Qatari riyals (35 cents) a litre from one riyal. Other products will rise more steeply, with one, premium petrol, increasing around 35 percent to 1.15 riyals.

However, these prices remain cheap compared to the rest of the world. The United Kingdom, for example, has a price of $1.44 per litre.

This most recent announcement follows a pattern in rolling back “subsidies for postal services and electricity as the government tries to rein in spending amid the state’s first budget deficit in 15 years,” according to a Doha News report.

In December, it was forecast that lower energy prices would leave Qatar with a deficit of around $12 billion in the 2016 budget.