ECONOMY

Threats bear fruit on gasoline price cap

Threats by the Ministry for Regional Development and Competitiveness to immediately indict any gas station owner who fails to adhere to its recent price cap and fine them up to 1.5 million euros have to an extent helped to contain the problem of consumers being charged unjustifiably high rates.

According to data compiled by the ministry?s Fuel Price Observatory, while up to 3 p.m. on Wednesday only three out of the 13 prefectures with a price ceiling had shown full compliance, regarding the sale of unleaded gasoline, the picture changed in the following hours, showing a significant improvement despite objections by retailers.

At 3 p.m. there was full compliance only on Chios, in Fokida and in Evrytania, but the picture improved significantly later also on Samos, Corfu, the Dodecanese and other areas where the ceiling has been imposed. Cephalonia and Lesvos gas stations owners remained undeterred by the ministry?s threats of penalties.

Reaction to the price cap grew stronger yesterday, though. The Federation of Gas Station Owners protested that in eight out of the 13 prefectures, the ceiling is only imposed on the retail price of fuel and not wholesale rates.

?Practice has shown that in such cases we have many instances of wholesale prices equal to or even higher than the retail price cap, which means gas stations cannot operate and are threatened with charges of a flagrant crime and heavy fines,? the federation said in its statement. It also called on its members to react and start mobilizing with rallies, pressure on local deputies, parties and consumers or even resorting to closing their gas stations ?until the unfair system ends.?

Also on Wednesday, the Association of Fuel Trading Companies (SEEPE) expressed strong opposition to the imposition of the price cap: ?The state?s claim that imposing a price ceiling is to the benefit of the consumer in order to beat phenomena of profiteering goes against the state?s action of increasing three times the consumption tax by a total of 93 percent in total over the last couple of years,? the association?s statement said.