Since the price freeze was removed in Hungary, the cost of fuel has skyrocketed in the country. It has now become so expensive to fill up at local petrol stations that no other neighbouring country beats Hungary for that matter.
Portfolio.hu decided to examine what exactly led to this. In their detailed analysis, they came to the following conclusions.
The news site used the retail prices in Croatia and Austria as an example to compare prices. The trend in Hungarian fuel pricing shows that prices rose at roughly the same rate in all three countries until the Hungarian government decided to introduce a price freeze at the end of 2021. However, as soon as lorries were excluded from the price freeze, the price of gas oil started to rise steadily. Thus, the retail price of gas oil has now reached almost EUR 1.8, the equivalent of the Austrian price. In Croatia, the retail price of diesel is currently EUR 1.6.
In December 2022, the price freeze was lifted entirely, resulting in a spike in the price of petrol. In comparison, the price of petrol in Hungary has now reached the same level as Austrian petrol. Meanwhile, the retail price of petrol in Croatia is currently around EUR 1.4.
Looking at the changes in oil prices over the last two years, it can be seen that the government has reduced the excise duty on fuels in two stages. This has made room for maneuvering on prices but still brought no benefit for market participants, only less financial loss. It is also clear that prices after tax deduction rose sharply following the lift of the price freeze in Hungary, compared to other countries.
In addition, it is important to underline that the differences are not only due to the fact that petrol stations have now started to make up for what they have lost due to the price freeze. The Hungarian market still needs a lot of time to recover from the shock of the price freeze.
It is also worth noting that among the taxes on fuel, the excise duty is not high compared to EU standards. While the minimum level of excise duty on petrol is EUR 0.359, the Hungarian state collects only EUR 0.31 at current exchange rates. The excise duty on gas oil is also lower in Hungary. The minimum level of excise duty on gas oil is EUR 0.33. In contrast, the state collects the equivalent of EUR 0.28 at current exchange rates. Moreover, tax reductions have also been made. The tax on petrol has been reduced from HUF 120 per litre to HUF 115 (EUR 0.29) and then to HUF 95 (EUR 0.24). At the same time, the tax on gas oil has been reduced from HUF 110.35 (EUR 0.28) to HUF 105.35 (EUR 0.27) and then to HUF 85.35 (EUR 0.22).