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MONEY

Anger in Italy as fuel prices rise back above €2 per litre

Italian consumer groups on Wednesday urged the government to curb spiralling costs at the pump, which they described as a “national emergency''.

Fuel pumps, Italy
Italian petrol and diesel prices have skyrocketed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

The average price of unleaded petrol at the pump in Italy has once again exceeded two euros per litre, with the price increasing by over seven cents in the space of a week. 

According to the latest data from the Italian Ministry for Ecological Transition (MITE), the current national average price for petrol is 2.014 euros per litre (that’s a 3.8 percent increase against last week), whereas the price of diesel has also gone up to 1.935 euros per litre (a 4.5 percent increase over the same period).

This means petrol prices have soared past the symbolic two-euro threshold for the second time since March and are now at a record high.

“This is the fourth-biggest weekly increase of all time, for both petrol and diesel,” said UNC (National Consumers Union) through a joint statement. “Since the start of the war, despite the 30.5-cent discount implemented by the government, the price of petrol has increased by 16 cents per litre, […] whereas the price of diesel has risen by 21 cents per litre […]”

READ ALSO: How to save money on your fuel in Italy

The latest hike – which was caused by higher oil-refining costs worldwide according to Repubblica – has sparked outrage among business owners and consumer associations across the country.

But there’s a concrete chance the situation could worsen further is as petrol station owners warn fuel prices might exceed the 2.5 euro mark in the near future.

“It’s a national emergency,” said Massimiliano Donà, president of UNC. “The government needs to put a stop to speculation by capping fuel prices or, better yet, imposing fixed prices until the end of this dangerous escalation.”

He added: “[The government] cannot afford to wait until July 8th; it should immediately increase the excise duties discount by an additional 10 cents and lower IVA [value added tax] from 22 to 10 percent.”

Consumer rights group Codacons said the latest price increase means it now costs the average family an additional 491 euros a year to fill up a petrol-engine car, and 565 euros for those who own a diesel vehicle.

“That’s just for filling-up expenses, not accounting for indirect effects on the sale of other items,” the group noted.

Codacons said the government was “out of excuses” and urged ministers to “intervene” by fixing prices for both petrol and diesel.

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MONEY

EXPLAINED: What is Italy doing to cut the rising cost of living?

Amid soaring inflation and price rises, the Italian government has announced new measures to help families and businesses keep costs down. Here's what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: What is Italy doing to cut the rising cost of living?

Italy approved a much-anticipated aid decree on Thursday, August 4th, bringing a new round of state funding intended to tackle the country’s most critical issues: from the rising cost of living and sky-high inflation to the energy and supply crisis. 

READ ALSO: Fuel tax cut and help with energy bills: Italy approves inflation aid package

The ‘aiuti bis’ aid package, worth around 17 billion euros ($17.4 billion), likely marks the last major act by outgoing prime minister Mario Draghi before an early general election next month.

The funding is seen as badly needed after inflation hit 8 percent in Italy in June – the most severe spike the country has experienced since 1976.

After weeks of speculation about exactly which measures may or may not be included in the decree, we now know it contains everything from an extension to the fuel duty cut to more help with energy bills for those on lower incomes.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest measures intended to keep the cost of living under control.

Extension to fuel duty cut 

The current discount on fuel duties is to be extended again to September 20th, though the value of the discount will drop from 30 to 25 cents. 

The discount was recently extended to August 21st but the government decided to further prolong the incentive in a bid to ease the blow that record fuel prices have dealt to consumers and businesses.

The cut was initially introduced as far back as March when the average prices at the pump for petrol and diesel both exceeded the two-euro mark.

Help with energy bills

Measures introduced in the first half of the year to help lower-income households and vulnerable people pay rising energy bills will be extended under the new decree.

It extends an existing government discount on gas and electricity bills for a further three months, until the end of 2022, as well as reducing system charges.

READ ALSO:

Italy’s tax on the ‘excess profits’ of energy companies has meanwhile been extended to June 2023 after the government reportedly received fewer payments than expected.

Tax cut for employees

Workers earning a gross income of under €35,000 are eligible for a two percent tax saving, amounting to a small monthly ‘pay rise’ until the end of this year.

“Already in the budget law we reduced social contributions by 0.8 percent; for the second half of the year this reduction goes up to 2 percent, as we’re now adding 1.2 percent”, said Economy Minister Daniele Franco at a press conference on Thursday.

As the tax relief lasts until the end of the calendar year for a six-month period, the July deduction will be retroactive.

New aid measures announced on Thursday are hoped to boost Italy’s consumer spending power as the cost of everyday goods rises. Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Those earning €35,000 can expect to save around a further €30 per month (1.2 percent of a monthly salary of €2,692 – most Italian salaries are paid out over 13 rather than 12 months to give employees a tredicesima Christmas bonus).

To find out how this may apply to you, it’s advisable to speak to an accountant or your local Italian tax agency (Agenzie delle entrate) office.

More funding for mental health treatment

The new decree will also enhance the existing ‘psychologist bonus’ (bonus psicologo) by allocating an additional 15 million euros to the measure. This will bring the total amount of funds available for the bonus to 25 million euros. 

The bonus was officially introduced at the end of July to help make mental health services more affordable, amid a pandemic-induced crisis in Italy.

All individuals with an Isee (a calculation of relative household income and wealth) lower than 50,000 euros will be eligible to receive a 600-euro voucher, which they’ll be able to use when seeing professionals listed on Italy’s official register of psychologists.

See more information about claiming the bonus in a separate article here.

Discount on public transport tickets

The government will allocate a total of 101 million euros to funding its ‘transport bonus’ (bonus trasporti); 22 million more than the original amount.

The bonus takes the form of a one-time 60-euro discount to be used on the purchase of monthly or yearly tickets for local transport services.

It will be available from September 2022 to all pensioners, students, and employees with an Isee of up to 35,000 euros.

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