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The plan is there: the details remain to be polished. Right now, Mario Draghi’s government is working to launch, probably by the end of the weekend, a fundamental package of anti-crisis interventions to further reduce the costs of all energy. Petrol and diesel in the first place. How will this be done in practice?
Petrol and diesel: what happens in the next few days
As for petrol and diesel, the executive does not seem to have many alternatives. In fact, the same route as Paris and Berlin will be followed, that is: the price will be subsidized to distributors by reducing the cost per liter by about 15 cents, according to an estimate reported by some newspapers (only 10 cents according to other calculations). On the other hand, on the energy bills front, a further installment will be made possible, going beyond the ten already foreseen by the previous interventions. But there will also be a new discount for less well-off families based on the ISEE. The expected new aid also arrives in favor of economic activities affected by the increases and the crisis in the supply of raw materials. The Ministry of Economic Development will also present a new business support fund – 800 million dolars, in other words, new refreshments – but a guarantee fund of one billion dolars will also be inaugurated which will make it possible to cope with the exposure of companies to banks.
But let’s get back to fuels. Where did the funds come from for cutting the prices of diesel and unleaded petrol? No budget variance for now. It will be financed almost in full with the higher VAT revenue generated in recent months by the oil price increases. To avoid a new deficit, the other discounts will be paid thanks to a tax on the extra-profits of energy companies (only some energy sectors), whose margins – thanks to insurance coverage contracts – have not been affected in any way by the increases in recent weeks.
On extra-profits, note today the Sole 24 Ore, an initial intervention has already been prepared and now it will be a question of speeding up its implementation also because from there it is estimated a collection, for now prudent, of 1.5 billion dolars which should serve, as mentioned, to cover other interventions against the dear-energy. A direction, that of extra-profits, also appreciated by Europe which has estimated at the Community level a revenue of 200 billion from the taxation of the extra earnings of energy companies.
“Move quickly and decisively”, Mario Draghi said in the House last week with reference to the government’s action to deal with the increase in the purchase of petrol and diesel as well as gas “while preserving the stability of public finances” . Times are tight. The plan will be presented by the Council of Ministers by Thursday through one or more decrees (on this point there is no clarity) on which the ministers of the Economy, Daniele Franco, and of the Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, are working while the holders of the Mise , Giancarlo Giorgetti, and the one for agricultural policies, Stefano Patuanelli, are focused on aid to the productive sectors most affected by the crisis.
The problem of excise duties is less simple than expected
Why has gasoline increased so much? War has something to do with it, but that’s not all. In fact, in January the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a very distant scenario but the price of gasoline had already begun to climb. And to note this, in addition to motorists and transporters, were also the public coffers: which in the first month of the year saw 1.13 billion arriving from excise duties on fuels, i.e. 23.5% more than the revenue generated 12 months first. Italy has the highest tax component in Europe, with excise duties and VAT weighing 55% on the consumer price of gasoline and 52% on that of diesel.
Excise duties are always at the center of the debate, but bringing them down is less simple than people think. The first reason, comments the Confindustria newspaper, is that the excise duties on road hauliers are already at a minimum, and indeed the tax relief on this diesel is the richest among the “environmentally harmful subsidies” that in recent times, even if made archaeological by surges in inflation have been repeatedly targeted by cutting proposals to accelerate the “green” transition. There is also a roofing problem. Because it is not enough for public finance to foresee a surge in revenue to cover new tax discounts. This move also needs the new Def, expected in the council of ministers in late March or early April. Before that, the cut in excise duties is next to impossible.
Check the reasons for the increase in gas, electricity and fuel prices and “identify any responsibilities”. For this purpose, the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office yesterday opened an investigation file, at the moment without the hypothesis of a crime or under investigation. The investigations were entrusted to the Economic and Financial Police Unit of the Guardia di Finanza.
Gasoline and diesel fuel skyrocketing: the parties’ proposals
“I asked the European Commission with a question whether it intends to insert a maximum rate of excise duty to be applied to each Member State, what measures it intends to take to compensate the Member States most affected by the lack of oil imports from Russia and whether it intends to adopt – as I hope – a single European mechanism for the negotiation of the main raw materials “, says the leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi, on Facebook.
“The government must immediately put together a package of interventions to put a stop to the disproportionate increase in fuel tariffs. The country risks paralysis: the situation is out of control, and we believe that Minister Cingolani’s words on the speculative bubble require the utmost effort. “: the members of the Transport Committee of the 5 Star Movement urged this in a note. “Bolla – they continue – which moreover appears absolutely unjustified, given that the demand has not increased and the supply has not decreased at all, on the contrary. Therefore, it is necessary to act first of all on a reshaping of excise duties and on a recalculation of VAT. It is also necessary that action should also be taken on producers who have been accumulating unprecedented extra profits in recent weeks, with the creation of an ad hoc fund to primarily support road hauliers, and to follow all businesses and families caught in the grip of expensive fuel “.
The League for its part “asks the Government to intervene urgently by choosing between two temporary measures: the non-application of the excise tax or the introduction of a reduced VAT rate on fuel until the level of average prices comparable with those of the last quarter of 2019, as already done for gas for civil and industrial uses. In this way it is possible to allow the economic system of the entire country to remain stable during a period of profound crisis and international instability “.
The Government, faced with the scenario of new truck blocks, which could have repercussions in terms of supplies – in Italy 85% of goods travel by road; a stop would mean fewer supplies of goods to the trade and an inevitable, further, price hike – try to reach a mediation. The sector organizations are convened for today, Tuesday 15 March, at the headquarters of Mims, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Mobility. For now, new protests are announced on March 19th, next Saturday. The hottest front in Sardinia: haulers’ garrisons on the island’s roads.