Fuel smuggling persists, aided by lack of authority checks

Besides not contributing to tax revenues as a result of fallen demand, overtaxation in the fuel market, the result of shortsighted policies pursued in previous years and at present, has also brought about a reinsurgence of illicit fuel trade.

Fuel smuggling activity has increased despite the implementation of an “inflow-outflow” monitoring system at petrol stations, supplier facilities and refineries, which, theoretically, should be significantly reducing the level of illicit fuel trade.

Esssentially, the “inflow-outflow” monitoring system is failing to produce results because inspections are not being conducted, market data is not being cross-examined, and gaps exist in the system.

Market sources noted that checks on data entered into the system by petrol stations managers each night, at closing time, are not being conducted at the Finance Ministry’s General Secretariat for Information Systems as a result of a “lack of staff”. The same applies for trading information being submitted by suppliers.

In addition to all this, the “inflow-outflow” monitoring system was incorrectly installed to start off with as it is not based on a single software system. The country’s petrol stations have been installed with a variety of software systems, based on specific standards set by the government, by a number of teams that worked on the project.

However, the biggest problem of all is the lack of a complete and detailed registry listing all existing fuel storage facilities in Greece. This is leaving gaps open for smugglers to exploit. The majority of illicit fuel trade is linked to unregistered fuel storage facilities.

In addition to the “inflow-outflow” monitoring systems installed at petrol stations, supply companies and refineries, all fuel storage facilities also need to be registered and monitored.