The big squeeze

De Facto

Action needed on transport taxes and price gouging

De Facto
Liamy MacNally

Forecourt fuel had a short-lived dalliance with the €2 per litre price; it has now swept well past it. Someone, somewhere is making huge bucks on the back of all the Covid and Ukraine War talk. It’s a sad state of affairs when the Taoiseach of the country alerts us that prices are going to increase further. It’s easy when he sits into his taxpayer-funded top-of-the-range car, with its paid-for driver and fuel.
In Ireland, the Government’s fuel taxes include excise duty, carbon tax, Nora (climate levy), VAT and better energy levy. According to recent figures from the AA motor organisation this can amount to taxes per litre of between 46 percent and 52.5 percent depending on the fuel type.
CSO figures show that 79 million litres of petrol and 306 million litres of diesel were ‘cleared’ in April 2022, netting the Government over €308,000,000 for that month. April fuel prices were (only!) 180.9c for petrol and 190.9c for diesel. Petrol is now circa €2.15 per litre with diesel around €2.10 – though as The Mayo News fuel survey shows, this can vary depending on location. Is there gouging?
Meanwhile, Minister Heather Humphreys has warned there is no ‘magic money tree’ for the Government to help beleaguered citizens. She stated that the Government had already “cut the excise on diesel and on petrol. We have cut the Vat on the gas and electricity. We have reduced public-transport fares by 20 percent. So we have done an awful lot already.”
On top of that people were expected to travel to Croke Park on Saturday for the Mayo-Kildare match. In ‘old money’ thinking, the 350 mile round-trip in a car doing 45 miles to the gallon costs over the €70 mark for fuel alone. Add in the tolls, coffee and grub and €100 yoyos are gone. And you still haven’t the match ticket or programme. It’s a pity the Mayo County Board didn’t factor in football fans’ requirements when they agreed to the timing of the fixture.
Iarnród Éireann advertises ‘Take the Train to Support your County’ on their website, with priority bookings for web fares from Cork, Belfast, Sligo, Galway, Limerick and Tralee. No Mayo. Their only concession to those attending the Saturday 6pm (or 18.00hrs in CIE parlance) Croke Park throw-in was that “The 18:15hrs Heuston to Westport service is deferred, and will now depart Heuston at 19:15hrs to cater for GAA supporters.” There must be a lot of Usain Bolts in Mayo!
In fairness to CIÉ p their prices are reasonable, it’s just that they don’t know how to manage their rolling stock or run suitable big-match timetables. With late the evening kick-off some might think of staying over. The best advice? Get a bank loan before you travel! Dublin accommodation prices are a rip-off with price gouging going on at many levels.
And why is the car rental industry allowed to gouge tourists and locals alike with their prices? Is this the price of the ‘free’ market? The industry is making a laughing stock of the country in the eyes of visitors.
Thankfully, in Mayo, one layer of transport we can rely on is Knock Airport and its keen management team. The Dublin Airport delays fiasco made national news for a couple of days, plunging the country’s name and ability to operate into the banana republic sphere. Several of Dublin Airport’s management team are earning six-figure salaries. Transport Minister Éamon Ryan refused to take questions on the debacle during a Dáil sitting in the aftermath of the fiasco, while the EU has exempted corporate jets from ‘green’ taxes. And airline fuel attracts minimal tax.
Closer to home, the new N5 dual-carriageway is ploughing ahead. Thankfully in Sheeaune, where I live, we don’t have the noise difficulties of Breaffy and Attyreece/Newport Road residents. (Our new Sheeaune flyover is almost ready but looks so narrow. Hopefully, we won’t have to reverse down the flyover to allow traffic to pass! With its very steep gradient driving during ice is also a concern. Time will tell.)
With impending ECB interest rate hikes just announced, the straw and the camel come to mind. Gouging is a short-term gain and doesn’t serve society. Limiting fuel taxes would help everyone. More positive action is required from Government with fuel rationing also looming.