OPINION

Illegal trading and heating fuel tax

A proposal to subsidize heating fuel, which the main opposition party PASOK keeps bringing up, could be valid if the difference between taxes on heating fuel and gasoline were abolished first. This is a measure that while well-intentioned has created an opportunity for what has become a widespread illegal trade. The ill-gained revenues earned by those who benefit from the price difference amounts to the astronomic sum of 2 billion euros. However, the cost to the national economy has been much higher since we also have to include the cost of policing (albeit ineffectively) the law, not to mention the cost of kickbacks to civil servants. So a populist measure has resulted in the financing of many blights on the economy and society. The state loses revenues that go into the pockets of those who are breaking the law, while even more opportunities are created for corruption in the state sector. That is why the measure has to be reviewed. The government should harmonize prices for heating fuel and gasoline. The additional taxation revenues should go toward subsidizing those considerable sectors of the population who will be forced to pay more for their heating fuel due to the extra tax. Naturally this will not solve all the problems. Our taxation system, unfortunately, is not a precise reflection of household incomes, so there will be some inequalities. However, the direct subsidizing of households will prevent illegal trade and its side effects. Instead of going to lawbreakers, the revenues – which the state would have lost anyway – would be distributed among the Greek people in a more just manner.