My understanding of the Deputy’s question is that it envisages a movement away from the current system of marking of oil to which a reduced rate of tax applies to one in which certain users would be given refunds of part of the mineral oil tax paid by them in respect of fuel used for non-auto purposes. The issue of the introduction of a rebate scheme for users of marked gas oil has been addressed in previous parliamentary debates. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a change to a system of this nature would involve the establishment of an expensive repayments system and would give rise to significant costs and place an administrative burden on oil traders, users and the Revenue Commissioners. It would also pose significant cash-flow costs for those currently using marked gas oil. Marked gas oil has a wide range of uses such as the propulsion of trains, the operation of agricultural, construction and industrial machinery, commercial sea-navigation (including fishing) and for commercial and home heating purposes. Any change in the existing system would therefore impact across a wide range of users.
Fuel laundering is a priority for the Revenue Commissioners who are tackling the problem on a number of fronts. For example, new and enhanced licensing provisions have been introduced for the sale of marked gas oil and auto-fuel. In addition, from January 2013, all fuel traders will make monthly returns to Revenue on their fuel stocks and transactions, enabling Revenue to identify unusual or suspicious patterns of activity. Revenue is also collaborating with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the UK to ensure we tackle the problem in a consistent and complementary way and the two administrations are working together to seek a better marker. Revenue continues to enforce the regulations actively at all stages of the fuel supply chain, targeting those involved in producing and selling laundered fuel. Since 2010, these interventions have resulted in the closure of 24 fuel laundering plants, the closure of over 70 fuel retail outlets and the seizure of over 2 million litres of fuel, together with associated equipment and transport.