Development Ministry unveils fuel retail measures

The Development Ministry yesterday issued a series of measures regarding the smooth operation of competition in the fuels market and restricting state intervention to the pricing policies of refiners and distributors. A decision by Minister Dimitris Sioufas imposed additional terms for transparency in the way prices are determined, amending an earlier proposal by the Competition Commission. Furthermore, he shelved other recommendations by the commission, such as the liberalization of work hours at gasoline stations, the expansion of licensing for fuel sales to hypermarkets, the lifting of price ceilings and the setting up of a special agency for the maintenance of reserves. The proposed installation of cash registers at gasoline stations and opening up the profession of tanker truck drivers were referred to the ministries of Finance and Transport respectively. Sioufas endorse the commission’s recommendation for the setting up of an electronic Integrated Petroleum Information System. Regarding the adulteration and illegal trade in fuels, Sioufas said that he will explore jointly with the Transport Ministry the revocation of the licenses of gasoline stations for specified periods of time in cases of repeat violations. He also announced the setup of a special inspections service, which will integrate all of the ministry’s inspection functions. Regarding the pricing measures, which are the only ones to take effect, the decision requires refineries to inform the fuel retailing companies of their sale prices in written or electronic form before 10 a.m. on the day of delivery at the latest, beginning on July 1, 2007. Retailers are required to notify the Competition Commission of their pricing mechanisms and of any changes thereof. Furthermore, Sioufas said the ministry was examining the full liberalization of the work hours of gasoline stations between May and September on the country’s largest tourist islands.

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