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Petrol Boss: High Excise Tax on Fuel Doing a Lot of Damage

Ljubljana, 29 November (STA) - The CEO of energy company Petrol, Aleksander Svetelsek, was critical in his interview for Delo of the government's raising of excise duties on fuel, saying it has hurt oil companies, tourism and retailers.

Svetelsek told the Saturday supplement of the daily that Petrol had noticed a drop in diesel fuel sales at transit service stations, while an across-the-board drop has been recorded at stations located near the border.

"Both is the result of excise duty policy, which has made fuel and oil dearer than in neighbouring countries. Thus most trucks just drive through Slovenia and do not buy fuel here."

Italians and Austrians used to be good customers on service stations located near the border. Svetelsek explained they did not merely fill up their tanks, but also bought other goods, tobacco and alcohol. This form of tourism is now gone, he added.

Svetelsek said that as a result, the Slovenian oil committee has already asked the Economic Institute at Faculty of Law to draw up a comprehensive study on the effect the change in excise tax policy, introduced by the government at the end of 2008, has had on state revenue.

He also touched on the insolvent Istrabenz holding, where Petrol is the biggest owner. Svetelsek said that talks with banks, which are owed some EUR 500m by the holding, are continuing.

While Petrol is pushing for a solution that would enable some parts of the Istrabenz conglomerate to survive, especially the energy section, reaching a consensus with and among banks is difficult because the banks' involvement in Istrabenz is not uniform, the CEO said.

Turning to Petrol's strategy for the future, Svetelsek said that Petrol will definitely be an energy-retailer company, which wants to increase its foothold in southeastern markets and preferably do so fast.

"Because now is a period of important expansion: during the upturn everyone was expanding, now this will be limited the those who are really good. Every expansion taking place now is worth two or three times as much than a few years ago. Petrol still has this strength."

What is more, the company is planning a much more active approach in the energy section, where it sees a lot of potential in gas, electricity and photovoltaics, while expecting a decline in segments such as hating oil.

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