Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ceisteanna (36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41)

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

39 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he has studied the cost associated with the transport sector with particular reference to the extent to which fuel prices now negatively impact on the sector; if he has received submissions from the representative bodies in this regard; if any intervention can be made unilaterally or in consort with his EU colleagues with a view to ensuring that fuel prices here are competitive with those prevailing throughout the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23348/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

40 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he and his Department have compared the fuel element of road transport costs here with those in other jurisdictions throughout the EU, within the eurozone and without; the extent to which possible corrective action has been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23349/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

41 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he has had discussions with the road haulage representatives in the context of the extent to which high fuel prices here place the industry at a disadvantage in comparison with other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23350/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

45 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he has examined the issue of a fuel rebate for Irish licensed and tax compliant hauliers who are currently buying diesel in bulk on the continent to avail of cheaper fuel costs. [23102/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

47 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated fuel consumption lost to the continent as a result of hauliers refuelling abroad. [23111/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

48 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost to the Exchequer of implementing a fuel rebate of 20 cent per litre for haulage companies; and his views on whether any of this cost could be offset by making Ireland more attractive to purchase fuel as a result. [23112/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 to 41, inclusive, 45, 47 and 48 together.

The Deputies will be aware that I met with representatives of the IRHA last February and that a working group was set up involving officials of my Department and the Revenue Commissioners, the IRHA and members of the Oireachtas to examine a number of issues of concern to the haulage industry. I am sure the Deputies will understand that I cannot pre-empt the outcome of those discussions which are ongoing.

Among the issues being examined by the group is an essential user's rebate system. I should point out that a system such as that sought by the IRHA, could not under EU law be restricted to Irish licensed hauliers but would have to be extended to all vehicles intended exclusively for the carriage of goods by road with a maximum permissible gross laden weight of not less than 7.5 tonnes. In addition, the rebate would have to include the carriage of passengers by a motor vehicle of category M2 or category M3 as defined in Council Directive 70/156/EEC. Under Council Directive 2003/96/EC, any such rebate would have to be within the confines of the minimum EU excise rates so a 20c rebate as suggested by Deputy Doherty would not be possible. The maximum rebate possible would be in the order of 15c.

Given the wide range of users to which a rebate might be available, it would be difficult to cost such a rebate system. On the matter of fuel consumption lost to the continent, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they do not have such data.

On the matter of fuel prices in general, the excise rates (including the carbon charge) in Ireland on motor fuels are 58.8 cent per litre of petrol and 47.9 cent per litre of auto-diesel. However, our rates remain lower than many of our main trading partners and significantly lower than our nearest neighbour the UK.

Any proposals around temporary taxation adjustments could lead to significant costs to the Exchequer. The issue of rising fuel prices was discussed by EU Finance Ministers at an ECOFIN meeting last year where they reconfirmed the approach taken in 2005 and again in 2008, when oil prices were very high, which endorsed a coordinated approach towards not making distortionary fiscal adjustments.