The Customs Department says it will intensify inspections at crossing points to crack down on gasoline bought in the north of the island, warning that officials could confiscate containers and even impound vehicles if there is a law violation.
The announcement comes in the middle of a social debate on whether Cypriots in the south deserve to be paying higher prices for a number of products, including petrol and medicines.
Greek Cypriot drivers who fill up their gasoline tanks with unleaded petrol in the north can save as much as €0.50 per litre.
Officials in the south warn that gasoline sold in the north has a higher concentration of sulfur and could pose an environmental hazard risk.
Critics point out that Greek Cypriot gas station owners have been lobbying the government for strict measures out of fear of competition from the north
But critics pointed out that Greek Cypriot gas station owners have been lobbying the government for strict measures out of fear they might lose far more to competition from the north.
Customs officials reportedly have been told they can proceed with prosecuting violators to the fullest extent of the law, which includes confiscating gasoline, imposing fines or even impounding vehicles.
This comes days after Customs and Excise Department officials requested legal opinions from the state attorney general’s office, in an effort to clarify how checkpoint officials should handle cases of petrol bought in the north.
Recent media reports showed that many Greek Cypriots were buying petrol at Turkish Cypriot gas stations, and a specific taxi company became a hot topic of discussion in parliament when it emerged that cabbies were driving en mass to the north to fill 'er up.
The latest price for Unleaded gasoline 95 Octane was recorded at €0.79 per litre, while Diesel cost about 76 cents and Unleaded 98 Octane about 83 cents.
These northern prices are about €0.50 cheaper from petrol in the Republic of Cyprus, where Unleaded gasoline 95 Octane is on average at €1.33 per litre, €1.386 for Unleaded 98 Octane about 83 cents, while Diesel cost about €1.347.
Supporters of the stricter measures point out that sulfur, a natural component that is present in fuel unless removed, impairs the effectiveness of emission control systems and contributes to air pollution. Reducing the sulfur content enables advanced emission controls and reduces air pollution.
But many Greek Cypriots took to social media to say they would continue to buy gasoline in the north simply because it is cheaper.
Inspections at checkpoints include officials taking samples from containers and gasoline tanks inside vehicles to determine on the spot the amount of sulfur in fuel.