Low-cost gas stations threaten to take the fuel discount to court | Economy

Low-cost gas stations continue to suffer from the application of the 0.2 euro discount on fuel decreed by the Government, which began last Friday. The National Association of Automatic Service Stations (Aesae), employer of these establishments low costeven threatens to take to court the reduction for the “patrimonial responsibility” of the Executive in the damage caused to the sector.

The conflict derives from the obligation for gas stations to advance the amount of the bonus, even in cases in which it is the State that pays 100% of the reduction (only Repsol, Cepsa and BP will have to supplement with five cents per liter state aid). The Government has articulated a mechanism to request in advance the estimated amount that each company will have to rebate to avoid this problem. However, in practice, the Tax Agency has not yet advanced anything and the service stations have already been applying the discounts for four days without public aid.

“We are going to study the performances [legales] at a national level and at a community level, since we understand that both may have jurisdiction over what is happening in the retail fuel market”, explained those responsible for the employers’ association. To which they add: “We are collaborators of the Administration, but we do not have the resources to be its bank.”

These low-cost gas stations have spent days, since the announcement of the measure, warning of the consequences it could have for small and medium-sized firms. The reason is that they do not have sufficient margins or financial muscle to face the advance of the reduction. Hence, they insist that it is “the economic suffocation of many small and medium-sized companies.”

The employers’ association, which brings together twenty chains, including Autonetoil, Ballenoil, Bonarea, Plenoil or Petrostar, has also warned that the measure is “destroying competition in a clearly oligopolistic sector.” An effect that can be very detrimental in the medium and long term caused by liquidity difficulties and by the power of large gas stations, especially those that have refining capacity in addition to their network of stations.

40,000 euros per month on average

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In fact, the large operators are selling fuel at their stations below cost price to wholesalers, according to the employers’ association. low cost. In addition, they offer discounts higher than those set by the Executive for those drivers who participate in their loyalty programs, a strategy focused on gaining market share. “This gives rise to a clamp that suffocates us not only financially, but also economically,” Aesae lamented.

The other two associations in the gas station sector (Ceees and Aevecar) have calculated that on average the discount of 20 cents per liter of fuel represents a cost to each service station of around 40,000 euros per month. This amount will have to be returned by the Government, but, meanwhile, with each passing day it is the gas stations that advance it. “The weekend was chaotic”, summarized the CEO of Ceees, Nacho Rabadán.

This is the position, contrary to the Government, shared by the bulk of low-cost gas stations. Although there are two brands that belong to the employer’s association that distance themselves from the complaints: Ballenoil and Plenoil. “All the measures that the Executive has implemented with the aim of lowering the price of fuel for consumers are supported by Ballenoil and Plenoil, since the aforementioned measures contribute to making the acquisition of such a basic good as gasoline more affordable,” they maintain in a joint statement. In addition, they ensure that their service stations are working normally and have been able to adapt their computer system without incident. What they do agree with the rest of the partners is the need for the advance payment from the Government to be available as soon as possible.

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