Northern Ireland's supermarkets should introduce a uniform fuel pricing policy if they really care about customers, the chair of the Assembly’s enterprise committee has said.
Patsy McGlone was speaking after it emerged that the big retailers are reducing the price of petrol and diesel by 2p a litre from today.
The cut — which is the second this week — is in response to lower wholesale fuel prices.
However, Northern Ireland remains the most expensive UK region for petrol and diesel, with average prices sitting at 137.8p per litre and 142.8p respectively.
Mr McGlone said today’s cuts will help hard-pressed motorists, but he slammed supermarkets for charging different prices for petrol and diesel depending on geographical location.
“There could be a 6p difference in the price of a litre of fuel at Tesco in Coleraine compared to Tesco in Antrim,” he said. “How can that be fair to consumers? And why are they charging different tariffs in different places for exactly the same product?
“The big retailers should introduce a uniform pricing policy for fuel right across the board.”
Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s all said they would reduce their prices by 2p a litre, with Asda promising that its customers would pay no more than 131.7p a litre for petrol and 135.7p a litre for diesel.
AA president Edmund King welcomed the cuts, which he said showed wholesale prices at last going in the right direction for drivers.
Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan, deputy chair of the committee said he was concerned about the impact of the price cuts on independent fuel retailers.
“The supermarkets know that smaller filling stations can’t compete with them on prices when they lower the cost of petrol and diesel,” he said.
“It’s in their interests to get their competitors to close, but that’s not in the best interests of consumers.”
Asda's petrol trading director Andy Peake said the retail giant was happy to be reducing the price of fuel for customers.
Tesco petrol category director Peter Cattell said: “As Britain's biggest fuel retailer with 497 forecourts, more motorists make savings at Tesco petrol filling stations than any other fuel retailer.”
Richard Crampton, Sainsbury's head of fuel, said it was “always looking at ways to help our customers save money”.
RAC technical director David Bizley said the supermarkets should be applauded for further reducing prices in response to the drop in wholesale fuel prices.
NI diesel price:
April = 142.8p
March = 146.7p
February = 145.2p
UK diesel price:
April = 141.8p
March = 146.4p
February = 144.8p
NI petrol price:
April = 137.8p
March = 141.1p
February = 138.7p
January = 133.2p
UK petrol price:
April = 136.9p
March = 139.9p
February = 137.9p