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Oil imports continued the systematic decline in January 2023, as well as throughout the previous year, in contradiction with retail trade volumes, which reported an increase in 2022 by INSTAT.
According to data from the Ministry of Finance, during January of this year, 40,734 tons of oil were cleared from customs, from 45,001 in January of 2022, a decrease of 9.5 percent.
In January 2022, the effects of the war in Ukraine had not yet started, but still hydrocarbon clearances were even lower than in January 2020. As can be seen from the data in the graph below, hydrocarbon imports in January fluctuate from year to year.
During the last year, oil imports fell by more than 9 percent. But the INSTAT data showed that the volumes of retail sales of hydrocarbons experienced a systematic increase during 2022, where in the first quarter the annual growth was 4.2%, in the second quarter with 5.2%, in the third with 3.9% and in the fourth with 4.7%.
On average, retail sales rose by about 4.5% during 2022, but officially reported oil imports fell by about 9%.
Hydrocarbons are the most important product in terms of budget receipts, as they rank first in the list of items that bring income to the budget.
Oil prices in Albania for almost 10 months are determined by an intergovernmental board. The decisions of the Transparency Board have often been controversial as they were not in line with the reference prices of the Stock Exchange.
In mid-January 2023, a liter of diesel was sold for 208 ALL. In international stock exchanges, a barrel of brent quality oil cost around 80 USD in January of this year, a 35% annual decrease. While in our country, a liter of retail diesel in January 2023 cost 15% more than in January 2022.
The Minister of Infrastructure and Energy said at the beginning of this year that the Board is expected to be dissolved soon, while yesterday it was decided to intervene in prices again.
The main beneficiary of the increase in oil prices is the government, which collects more VAT as a result of the high prices. Finance has not disclosed how much the receipts are as a result of the price increase, but sources from the Association of Hydrocarbon Companies informed Monitor that the fuel companies have paid 135 million euros more in VAT just from the increase in prices, which for months in a row remained at the level of 230-240 ALL per liter, from around 170-180 ALL per liter in 2021./Monitor/