Canary gas stations foresee an "avalanche" with the premiere of the 20 cents and after days of falling sales

The service stations face the day with uncertainty, since the limited margin has prevented them from adapting the computer systems. / Juan Carlos Alonso

Discomfort grows in the sector due to the inability to assume the bonus. They doubt that the Government will pay in a week as the Minister of Finance has said. Some service stations are studying their closure

Silvia Fernandez

The service stations of the Canary Islands foresee an "avalanche" of vehicles to be refueled this Friday with the start of the bonus of 20 cents per literespecially after sales have fallen substantially since Monday, when the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, announced the measure.
Consumers are waiting for today to recharge their vehicles, according to sources in the sector, who believe that the day is going to be "chaotic".

The service stations of the islands tried this Thursday to speed up the adaptation of their computer systems or install provisional updates in their management programs in order to make the 20-cent bonus effective. However, not everyone will have it prepared due to the haste with which the Government has approved the measure that has caught the sector by surprise. In these cases, the grant will be managed manually.

In the last 48 hours there have been meetings between the different business organizations in the service station sector throughout the country due to the discomfort generated by the Government's measure. The sector, very affected after two years of crisis and falling sales due to the covid, assures that it does not have the financial muscle to be able to advance the bonus.

In the Canary Islands, it is estimated that the average cost that a medium-sized gas station will bear per month is between 18,000 and 20,000 euros, while in the large ones it is between 60,000 and 80,000 euros.. The sector complains that the Government "has given them the problem" and has chosen them to finance their bonus.

Of the 500 service stations in the Canary Islands, more than half are owned, sublet or franchised by SMEs and freelancers who do not have the capacity to bear these high costs, according to these sources.

Late yesterday there were service stations on the islands, both traditional and automated, studying whether to go to a lockout due to the difficulties posed by the measure, according to CANARIAS7. On the peninsula there are already service stations that have announced their temporary closure as they cannot assume the advance of the aid.

The Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, announced yesterday that service stations will be able to request an advance payment on account of the discount they have to apply to fuel.. To do this, as of this Friday there will be a form on the website of the Tax Agency that the gas stations that aspire to the advance will have to fill out.
Montero also assured that the Government will return the bonus money next week.

However, the sector is skeptical with both issues and warns that the Government suffocates them by forcing them to be the ones to finance that bonus.
“Knowing how the bureaucracy works in Spain, we have many doubts that the Government will manage the thousands of requests that will arrive on Friday in such a short time. In fact, the form to request the advance is not yet enabled, ”indicated sources in the sector yesterday.

In his opinion, the measure is going to translate into thousands of gas stations advancing liquidity and without cash flow, which, according to these sources, "is going to lead to more than one closing." As they point out, some stations are going to have to resort to external financing to be able to take charge of the bonus, which will generate interest that nobody is going to pay them. “The situation is unfair. The weakest link, the gas stations, we are the ones that are going to have to assume the measure. This does us a lot of damage”, says Antonio Arbelo, owner of a gas station in Gran Canaria.

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