Dramatic drop in fuel tax revenues

Greece is earning fewer revenues from gasoline taxes than it did in 2009, before the crisis struck and taxes were hiked, customs officials revealed on Thursday.

Speaking at a conference in Thessaloniki, the head of the Federation of Customs Officials, Dimitris Tribonias, said that Greeks have been using their vehicles less as a result of the crisis and the subsequent drop in purchase of gasoline has hit tax revenues.

?In terms of revenues, the Greek state finds itself where it was before it hiked the special consumption tax on fuel,? he told the audience.

The tax, introduced in February 2010, increased the price of gasoline by 0.12 euros a liter and diesel by 0.05 euros a liter. At the time, the government was hoping that it would bring in an extra 934 million euros per year for state coffers. The tax hike made gasoline in Greece one of the most expensive in Europe.

?When compared with 2010, the fall in gasoline consumption is greater than 30 percent,? said Tribonias. ?There has been a similar fall in demand for heating fuel.?

He added that revenues from the special tax on gasoline had reached 100.9 million euros last year but in the first six months of this year did not surpass 25 million euros and may come in even lower for the second half of 2012. Tribonias said that the revenues from the levy on gasoline in 2004 had been 907.8 million euros, despite the tax being lower then.

The conference heard that as a result of the drop in fuel purchases, about 2,200 of a total 8,500 gas stations around Greece have closed. There are fears that another 2,000 may shut down soon as they are no longer breaking even.