5 April, Dublin
Retailers, suppliers and manufacturers of solid fuel in Ireland are outraged today following a response to a parliamentary question from Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe last week. Fianna Fáil Deputy Jim O’Callaghan asked the Minister about seizures of smuggled solid fuel to date in 2019 to which Minister Donohoe stated that there have been none.
Managing Director of CPL Fuels Niall McGuinness said “the fact that there have been no seizures this year is completely unacceptable. Manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and the dogs in the street know that solid fuel is being illegally sold all over the country. The Minister’s response is extremely worrying for the entire supply chain, we need support from the Government especially as Brexit is fast approaching”
Large quantities of cheap, non-SFTC (Solid Fuel Carbon Tax) paid solid fuel is being sold illegally and in plain sight as far away from the border as County Kerry. Solid fuel can represent up to half of some retailers’ turnover, particularly in the Winter months. Due to the stark differences in tax policies on both sides of the border, 26 tonnes of coal (one truck load) is €2,217 more expensive in the Republic of Ireland than in Northern Ireland. Based on our calculations, carbon tax evasion alone at 20% results in an estimated loss of €9.6 million to the State. The amount lost to retailers at this rate is even more staggering at €36.5million a year.
The Minister also stated that just €640,000 in lost revenue from SFTC has been recovered out of a potential €9.6 million year on year loss. Mr McGuinness concluded “this is simply not good enough. Not only are we losing out on sales, the Exchequer is losing out on receipts. Pair that with the fact that the fuel coming over the border is smoky coal and bad for the environment. It is the Irish public that are ultimately paying the price.”
Currently there is no deterrent to purchasing smuggled goods as it is not a crime. Retailers Against Smuggling supports the Sale of Illicit Goods Bill which aims to deter people from buying illicit alcohol, solid fuel and tobacco by introducing on-the-spot fines for buying goods where taxes have not been paid. This bill is a necessary measure to protect small Irish retailers.