ECONOMY

Ministry delays heating oil decision

A delay at the Finance Ministry in issuing a final decision on the details of the heating oil allowance is causing problems in households and the fuel market.

Taxpayers who are entitled to the subsidy cannot apply for a deposit until the rules become clear, while the General Secretariat for Information Systems has yet to receive orders to put together the new electronic application that will be required.

Ministry officials are racing to cover what some see as the failure of the administration to reach a decision on the heating oil subsidy sooner, saying that it takes some planning before consumers can submit their applications and collect their deposits, set at 25 percent of their allowance.

As the process picks up pace, however, all signs point to the application system opening within 10 days. It will take at least another five days for applicants’ data to be processed, meaning that deposits will most likely not be paid out before early November.

A senior ministry official noted that consumers who are entitled to the benefit and acquire heating oil before the electronic gate opens may get the subsidy credited on their account once the process for the payment of the allowance starts. But the ministry is looking for a way to prevent abuse of the system by recipients who collect the deposit and then fail to produce a receipt for the purchase of heating oil as they are supposed to.

On Tuesday, on the first day of sales for heating oil, orders amounted to near zero, partly due to the favorable weather. Fuel trading professionals said that the ministry’s delay will have a negative impact on both the consumers and the market. They also point to the risk for many eligible taxpayers who live in apartment blocks to be unable to receive their allowance and purchase heating oil if the majority of residents decide against the purchase of fuel this winter.

The average price in the market stood at 1.27 euros per liter in Attica and Thessaloniki, which means that taxpayers to receive the subsidy will pay 0.92 euros/lt. In the rest of the country prices were about 0.05 euros/lt higher.