Sales of 'blue' fuel more than halved
Special fiscally marked fuel for farmers can only be purchased on the basis of a register starting with the beginning of the year. As a result, its sales have fallen by more than half and the state is generating more excise duty revenue.
18 million liters of the inexpensive special diesel for agricultural and marine use, also known as "blue" diesel, were sold in the first quarter of the previous year. Kiido Levin, director of the registers department at the Agricultural Registers and Information Board, said that only 8.6 million liters of this fuel were sold in the first three months of this year.
"The overall reduction could be 52.5 percent. The automatic filling stations were the most anonymous and easiest for a potential misuser. That is where the sale has decreased by 80 percent," Levin added.
The change came about as a result of the Agricultural Registers and Information Board's new registry. Before purchasing fuel at a reduced excise duty rate, farmers must prove their right to purchase with an ID card.
It is difficult to predict precisely how much additional excise tax revenue the country will collect due to this measure. Levin explained that if all of this fuel had been purchased as ordinary diesel, the total for the first quarter would be €3.37 million.
Levin also emphasized that there would not be that much additional revenue, as less fuel will be purchased.
Even before the new register was implemented, Alexela stopped selling all blue diesel fuel, with the exception of two gas stations in Kihnu and Vormsi.
Tarmo Karsnä, a member of Alexela's management board, said that the sales were declining regardless: "Both the control side was state-run and many farmers preferred to buy or order a container in their own backyard from which to they tanked. Maybe they went to fewer petrol stations," he said.
At the same time, the availability of special fuel has not declined, Levin said. "Wholesale to end-users, which is where 94 percent of all that fuel is actually sold, there hasn't really been a drop in the number of sellers at all," he explained.
Kärsna, a fuel retailer, also said that while the state's goal is understandable, the solution now has become overly stringent. He does, however, emphasize that this ought to ultimately be assessed by the farmers themselves, and farmers seem to be satisfied with the registry.
One of the major risks of this support for farmers, according to Hannes Prits, head of the farmers' co-operative Kevil, is misuse: "Figuratively speaking, a 1998 Passat on a country road somewhere that runs on 'blue' fuel: we were rather worried, just before this change, that the measure would be abolished precisely because of these misuses."
Prits also praised the fact that producers were involved in the creation of the registry. It is rather an example of sound policy - the benchmark is perhaps a mouthful - but good policy nonetheless.
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Editor: Kristina Kersa