Officials recall monitoring drive following poor fuel tax figures

Pressured by the need to boost tax revenues, government authorities have resumed taking action to counter the country’s illicit fuel trade problem following a far softer stance last year. The number of inspections conducted has risen by over 270 percent since last year, while a new effort is being made to increase monitoring by making the installation of GPS systems mandatory for fuel trucks.

Employees at the energy ministry’s fuel handling and storage controls authority (KEDAK) had stopped conducting inspections as a result of a bonus cut but disappointing tax revenue figures have prompted a new effort to clamp down on fuel smuggling activities.

According to finance ministry data, 6,443 inspections were conducted during the first four months this year, compared to just 1,702 throughout the entire first half of 2016. This represents a 278 percent increase. Also, fines worth a total of 9.5 million euros were imposed during the first four months of the current year, up from 1.97 million euros in the first half of 2016, a 382 percent increase.

These percentage increases were exacerbated by the subdued monitoring activity by authorities last year. In 2014, authorities carried out 27,365 checks. They dropped to 8,850 in 2015 and rose to 12,018 in 2016, according to energy ministry data.

Energy product special consumption tax (EFK) revenues for the first four months of the year fell short of the target figure by 102 million euros, or 6.8 percent, while fuel EFK revenues were 26 million euros, or 4.1 percent, below the target. If this rate is to be continued until the end of the year, the Greek State will be deprived of roughly 400 million euros in fuel-related tax revenues.