ECONOMY

Cheating gas stations to be closed down

The government is planning to revoke the operating licenses of gas stations found to be tampering with fuel pumps, an issue that has divided the sector.

The provision forms part of an amendment put to public consultation and presented this week by Deputy Minister for Regional Development and Competitiveness Dinos Rovlias.

The amendment, which will be tabled in Parliament soon, is meant to avert fraud against consumers and includes heavy penalties for those found guilty. It provides for the revocation of the license from the first instance of pump tampering, or even with indications of the presence of a mechanism that fraudsters use to deliver less fuel than is paid for.

Rovlias showed one of the mechanisms to journalists at a press conference on Tuesday and promised that checks at gas stations will be intensified.

The government?s move came a day after the intervention by the Panhellenic Federation of Gas Station Owners and Fuel Merchants (POPEK) regarding the worrying extent of fraud against consumers.

The allegation by POPEK that a number of gas station owners tamper with their fuel pumps sparked an internal war in the sector, with its other union, the Federation of Gas Station Owners (OBE).

The latter issued a strong-worded statement on Tuesday referring to the ?sudden highlighting of the issue by the sector?s divisive federation? and accused POPEK of trying to mislead consumers.

POPEK responded with a statement of its own, qualifying its move as an attempt to protect healthy competition and consumers. It added that ?those who seek other motives in what we do obviously reach that judgment based on their own behavior.?

The end result is that the sector has been torn in two and consumers have now had it confirmed that many of them are victims of extensive fuel fraud.