Stournaras rules out wider heating oil subsidy, focuses on next tranche

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has asked Greeks to “be patient for another year” as he dismissed on Monday suggestions that a heating oil subsidy might be extended as temperatures dip across the country.

“I wish there was fiscal capacity do to so but there isn’t,” Stournaras told Vima FM in a response to a question about assistance for poor families to buy heating oil.

MPs from a number of parties, including coalition partners New Democracy and PASOK, have called over the last few days for there to be more help for less well-off families.

Last year, the government raised the tax on heating oil to match unleaded fuel, leading to the price rising by 40 percent. Demand for heating oil has since dropped by a reported 80 percent.

However, Stournaras added that many of those who qualified for a heating oil subsidy this year have failed to apply for one.

The finance minister stressed that it was important for Greece to continue its tight control over public finances as it looks to convince the troika to release three more loan tranches over the next three months.

“We won’t get the next instalment if we let up,” said Stournaras. “If the pullover starts to unravel, we’ll lose the trust we’ve started to rebuild. We have set targets that we have to meet.”

The disbursal of the next tranche, worth 9.2 billion euros is due after the January 21 Eurogroup. By then, Greek Parliament will have to approve a new tax code.