The fuel price rally is forcing the government to take further measures (besides subsidies) to tackle smuggling and fraud. A meeting held last week under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis decided upon the introduction of measures to safeguard state interests and tackle fraud that results not only in conning consumers but also in creating problems in their vehicles due to low fuel quality.
At the same time, market professionals report that fraud and smuggling harm consumers more than high prices, as 15% less fuel is reported as having been delivered, with the state missing out on significant revenues.
On Friday, the director of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue, Giorgos Pitsilis, announced the first package of measures (with a second package set to follow). It provides for the shuttering of gas stations that own, distribute and trade in adulterated fuel. The state will also publish their details. The penalty will depend on the severity of their violations, with the shutdown ranging from 10 days for up to 5,000 liters of tampered fuel, to a three-month closure for over 45,000 liters.
The shutdown will be imposed on all the tanks at the gas station as well as any other installations, with special seals and adhesive tape used to close the main entrance and prevent the use of the pumps. The stickers will clearly state in Greek and English that the gas station has been closed due to fraud. The tampered fuel must be disposed of with special procedures and at the expense of the fuel station owner.
According to fuel market sources, the fines have so far seemed unable to solve the problem as offenders have a much higher profit than the fine imposed on them, while in many cases the fines are not paid at all. Offenders usually close their gas stations and open a new one, under another name, continuing the smuggling or falsification of fuel.
The same sources commented that the new measure will have significant results and is something that the market itself had proposed to the government.