Subdued fuel sales not good news for economy ahead of bailout finale

Latest fuel market figures remain unfavorable, which, to a certain degree, explains the economy’s anemic growth rate. Fuel market data provided for March is not positive given the imminent completion of Greece’s bailout program. Ideally, consumer confidence should now be gaining momentum but it is not.

Gasoline demand in March fell by 1.7 percent compared to the equivalent month a year earlier, diesel demand was down 1.2 percent, while heating fuel demand plummeted 9.8 percent, primarily as a result of the mild winter weather, according to data provided by a market official.

Though the gasoline and diesel demand drops seem trivial, they provide further evidence that the fuel market’s contraction of the past seven years is not yet over.

“I believe 2018 will be slightly better than 2017,” remarked Avin general manager Tolis Vassilakakis, who presented the latest market data during a presentation of the petroleum firm’s new product range and services.

The fuel market’s subdued activity was confirmed by tax revenue figures for March. Energy product special consumption tax (EFK) revenues were 78 million euros, or 7.1 percent, below the target figure as a result of lower consumption levels. Also, VAT revenues stemming from petroleum products were 13 million euros, or 2.8 percent, below the target figure set for March.

Over the course of the first quarter, volume-based gasoline demand rose by 1.9 percent, diesel sales were up 5.8 percent, and heating fuel dropped by 22 percent.

However, the figures for the first three-month period of the year are not considered indicative of the market’s true situation at present. A higher EFK tax rate imposed on fuels as of January, 2017 prompted consumers to rush and fill tanks during the last weeks of 2016, meaning demand was lower than usual at the beginning of 2017. That slump makes the first-quarter figures for this year look better than what they actually are.