Expensive petrol and fuel, the tricks of some “white pumps” to avoid tax inspections
Gasoline chaos. After the partial about-face of the Meloni government on excise duty by the president of the petrol union Figisc Anisa Confcommercio Bruno Beardispoke of the problem linked to illegally imported fuels which represent 30% of the total.
The reference is to a speech by prosecutor Sandro Raimondi to the Productive Activities Commission of the Senate some time ago. But Corriere della Sera in the past few hours has summarized the allegations against some “White pumps”, i.e. distributors who do not belong to the major categories: their columns are “No Logo”. These are often independent entrepreneurs who have a presence at a regional or provincial level. Among them there are some “crafty” who manage to get around the excise duties.
The tricks implemented by a minority of “white pumps” to avoid tax inspections? A tanker leaves with a load of smuggled petrol from Slovenia, Bulgaria or Poland, crosses the Italian border and then arrives at a medium or small fuel depot – explains Corsera – For a depot to be such, it must not exceed the 3,000 tonnes of storage seems like a detail but, below that quantity, the deposit manager is not obliged to use the Infoil computerized system connected to the Guardia di Finanza and the State Property Agency. In short, that load of petrol is not subjected to the stringent controls that concern fuel stored in large depots, those typically used by traders and oil companies.
Naturally, underlines Corsera, fraud and offenses concern a small part of the 6,000 white pumps scattered on the Italian road network. However data and figures confirm that the main opacity of the distribution sector is concentrated in the field of no logo service stations. During a hearing in the parliamentary commission of inquiry into the mafias the outgoing director of the Customs Agency, Marcello Minenna had reported: «On the issue of excise duties, checks have been carried out on fuel fraud, basically connected to the phenomenon of white pumps». The general commander of the Guardia di Finanza, Giuseppe Zafaranain the same hearing confirmed: «These are mainly sectors of oil and gas logistics distributors without a logo, i.e. white pumps, through which criminal organizations carry out the evasive conduct that allows fuel to be placed on the market at highly competitive prices”. A universe that – according to what Corriere della Sera reports – moves under the radar, evading the tax authorities and feeding enormous flows of money for the benefit of organized crime. Which, among other things, uses part of the illicit proceeds to buy storage depots and petrol stations. In the three-year period 2019-2021, the Guardia di Finanza seized 19 million kilos of fuel, detecting the consumption of 404 thousand tons of undeclared energy products.
Bruno Bearzi, president of Figisc, the Italian federation of road fuel plant managers of Confcommercio, explained to Corriere: «Let’s investigate illegally imported fuels which represent 30% of the total. Here the state loses 13 billion euro».
An intervention is urgently needed because the whole Italian system is involved, and the two main sectors of the Italian economy: agriculture and tourism. «All the experts indicate that 2023 will be a particularly difficult year for energy supplies – affirm the president and director of the Confagricoltura of Asti, Gabriele Baldi and Mariagrazia Baravalle according to what we read on italiaatavola.net – Farms have been in serious difficulty for three years: first the pandemic and then the increase in production costs deriving from the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict have literally brought the whole compartment. We appreciate the measures present in the Budget Law, including the one relating to the extension of the 20% tax credit for the purchase of diesel and petrol, but that is not enough. A task force coordinated by the Government together with the European Union is needed to work towards a further reduction in excise duties, at least for the entire duration of this year, in order to lighten costs and restore dignity to our businesses. In other European countries, interventions in favor of households and businesses have been envisaged for the whole of 2023, while in Italy the measures in favor of enterprises are foreseen only for the first quarter. Without a solid joint initiative, we risk the collapse of the single European market.’ From agriculture to tourism, things are not promising, underlines italiaatavola.net. With petrol so expensive, the costs of raw materials, including food, increase significantly. And so hotels and restaurants are forced to review the prices in their price lists.
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