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Puerto Ricans unhappy with rise in gas prices

San Juan, July 3 - Puerto Rican consumers are expressing their discontent with the increase in gasoline prices resulting from the government's near-doubling of a tax on fuel wholesalers.

A senator with the main opposition PNP, Carmelo Rios, Tuesday demanded the firing of Consumer Affairs Secretary Nery Adames for her handling of the gasoline price hike.

"She has demonstrated a dangerous incompetence regarding her function as protector of consumers by permitting the prices of gasoline to rise without taking appropriate action," said the legislator.

The hike in taxes on fuel wholesalers has translated into an increase of about 4 cents per liter (about $0.15 per gallon) of gas at the pump, according to Adames' office.

Law 31-2013, approved by the Legislature with a majority of the governing PPD, increases taxes in the sector of petroleum products with the aim of reducing the huge debt of the state-run Highways and Transportation Authority, or PRHTA.

The government hopes that the tax hike on gasoline derivatives will generate an extra $189 million in revenues each year.

The president of the Puerto Rican Gasoline Retailers Association, Rafael Mercado, said that there is uncertainty among gas station owners regarding how they will be affected by the new regulation.

During 2012, Puerto Rico's approximately 3 million automobiles consumed more than 4.1 billion liter of gas. (IANS)