With fuel prices at record levels, Italians are increasingly filling up their tanks on the black market, announces La Repubblica. The Roman daily reports on an Italian Finance Police investigation which has uncovered a black market “involving 36 companies — 11 from abroad and 25 based in Italy — which illegally imported 20 million kilos [1kg = 1,351L] of fuel, defrauding tax authorities of 8 million euros.”
The contraband was routed via Greece to the port of Ancona. On arrival it was sold at a third of the official price to truckers, who loaded up on diesel pumped directly from tanker trucks. Another investigation revealed that agricultural diesel, offered at a special rate to farmers, was being sold on to private consumers who were using it for transport and heating.
According to La Repubblica, this phenomenon can be explained by a hike in petrol prices prompted by tax increases the government has introduced in its bid to clean up public finances —
2012 was an annus horribilis for fuels. in just one year, there were four separate increases in excise duties, and in certain regions the price of unleaded rose to a record high of more than 2 euros per litre. According to the fuel companies, consumption declined by 14% year over year, and a VAT increase expected in the 2013 budget is expected to renew the upward pressure on prices.