ECONOMY

No price ceiling on gasoline, yet

The price of unleaded gasoline may have hit 2 euros per liter at just one gas station on the remote island of Karpathos over the weekend but the general price level of fuel is rising by the day. According to official data, the nationwide average is now 1.814 euros/liter.

Sources say the government is watching the situation with some apprehension but has decided not to impose a price ceiling for the time being, mainly for three reasons. First, the recent hikes cannot be attributed to extensive profiteering. ?Suspect? practices for which there are indications of violations of the rules of competition have been identified only on certain islands and the Competition Commission may have to look into them.

Secondly, precisely because instances of profiteering are isolated and prices have been at a high level for some time, the government does not want to resort to the ceiling measure just yet, as a continued further rise may necessitate its imposition nationwide later to deal with a general crisis situation.

Third, Development Ministry officials argue that the main factors influencing fuel prices now are taxes and levies. These, including the special consumption tax and VAT, come to 1.04 euros in the average price of 1.814 euros.

The highest average prices were recorded in Crete?s Lasithi (1.93 euros/liter), Hania and Rethymno districts (1.906 euros/liter), Cephalonia (1.92 euros/liter) and the prefecture of Samos (1.899 euros/liter). Each district appears to have particular factors that can have an effect on prices — Samos, for instance, which also includes the islands of Fourni and Icaria, where the number of gas stations is very small. Crete, on the other hand, where the population nearly triples in the summer, has the basic problem of a lack of storage facilities.

According to a survey conducted by Bloomberg in the July 9-23 period, Greece ranked ninth in terms of gasoline prices among 60 countries.