Queues at a fuel station in Malaga this Friday 1 April. / ÑITO SALAS

It’s no April Fool joke: fuel prices in Spain really have dropped by 20 céntimos a litre from today

Many motorists have waited until 1 April to fill up their tank and take advantage of the discount, but ‘low cost’ filling stations say the new measure could ruin them

ISABEL MÉNDEZ Malaga

Today’s the day. Fuel prices in Spain are now subject to a discount of 20 céntimos per litre, of which the government is funding 15 céntimos and the oil companies five. The new measure to help reduce the cost of living and ease the pressure on the road transport sector has come into force with diesel more expensive than petrol for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. The average price of a litre of diesel is currently 1.83 euros, compared with 1.81 for other types of fuel.

Motorists don’t have to do anything to benefit from the discount, because it will be applied automatically when they pay at the filling station and will show up on their receipt.

The move has been welcomed by motorists but not so much by filling stations, who say they have not had enough time to handle the change. In fact, independent 'low cost' companies have issued a strong statement demanding that the government withdraw the measure because it will ruin many of them who cannot afford to charge 20 céntimos less per litre and then wait for the government's 75 per cent of the discount to be refunded to them.

Vídeo. ÑITO SALAS

However, the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, said on Thursday that the companies can apply immediately for the repayment and the tax authority will start sending the payments out next week. From 1 April, the companies can fill out an online form to ask for the 15 céntimos per litre which the government is discounting from the fuel price.

The minister also said that if filling stations have not had time to adapt in order to show the discount on receipts, they can put up signs in visible places. She also stressed that the government will ensure that companies do not try to cheat by putting their prices up, and that a system is to be put into operation where consumers can report any type of incident.