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Target for fuel tax revenue may be out reach

By Chryssa Liaggou

Heating oil consumption may be at an all-time low even though we are in the middle of the winter season, but revenues from the special consumption tax have shown a considerable increase in the first 20 days of January compared to the same period last year, according to data presented in Parliament by Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras on Tuesday.

The finding has rendered the government optimistic that it may reach the target for state revenues of 4.5 billion euros from the special consumption tax on heating oil in 2013.

The data presented, however, show a dramatic decline in consumption amounting to 78 percent from the same period in January 2012. Nevertheless, revenues from the tax are so far showing a 20 percent rise in the whole of January 2012 owing to the large hike of the special consumption tax rate, which jumped from 60 euros per 1,000 liters in October 2011 to 330 euros/1,000 lt in October 2012.

Revenues from the special consumption tax on heating oil amounted to 44.57 million euros in the first 20 days of January against 37.1 million euros last year. In the whole of January 2012 the market saw the sale of 618,443 tons of heating oil, against just 135,061 tons in the first 20 days of January 2013.

There are, however, major losses in revenues from the special consumption tax on diesel, as a result of the reduction of consumption and of the tax rate from 420 euros/1,000 lt in October 2011 to 330 euros/1,000 lt last October.

The ministry has little to be optimistic given the data on public revenues from the special consumption tax on diesel and the targets for revenues from fuel in 2012: the latter dropped by 189 million euros from 2011 and lagged 98 million euros behind the overall target for 2012. Revenues from the special consumption tax on diesel have shown a 47 percent decrease this month from January 2012.

The Finance Ministry estimates that there will be further growth in special consumption tax revenues from heating oil considering that the stock from last April, which has accounted for some 80 percent of consumption so far this winter, is running dry. Market professionals do not dispute this estimate, but note that the increase will be very limited.

Data seen by Kathimerini show that over the past three years, the biggest volume of heating oil consumption is recorded in January, compared with the other months the commodity is on sale. In January 2010, for instance, 609,692 tons of heating oil were traded, compared with 542,596 tons in February, 402,529 in March and 214,528 in April.

Official data do not prove the high level of stock the ministry claims had been stored last April. In April 2011 some 364,756 tons were traded, rising to no more than 381,736 in April 2012. In March heating oil sales had amounted to 248,847 tons.

What was more impressive was the number of consumers who abstained from buying heating oil in October 2012: The first month of the seasons heating oil trading had sales of just 5,647 tons, against 223,386 tons in October 2011 and 329,448 in October 2010.

The fuel market now estimates that the level of demand for heating oil will average at just 50 percent of last years trading in the next few months. This, coupled with the reduction in revenues from the special consumption tax on diesel and gasoline (that have also seen a major drop in consumption), renders the target set for public revenues practically unattainable.

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday Jan 23, 2013 (23:22)  
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