THE boss of Askeaton-based fuel importing firm Galtee Fuels Ltd has called on the government not to apply the second phase of the Carbon Tax.
The proposed increase, unveiled by Finance Minister Michael Noonan in his budget, adds €1.20 to a 40kg bag of coal and 26c to briquettes.
But Galtee Fuels founder Pat O’Sullivan says affordable heating methods are “critical” to homeowners now, with many elderly people effectively having to choose whether to ‘eat or heat’ when the weather declines.
“People are staying longer in bed; going to the shops, staying there longer and all to avoid the cost of turning on their heating systems. The people of Ireland have accepted cutbacks and stealth taxes; all hurting the weakest in our society with minimal social unrest,” he said.
The Limerick FC benefactor also pointed out that the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said in his final budget that until a mechanism was in place to control the import into Ireland of cheaper fuels, this tax should not apply.
“Northern Ireland, for example, has legislation which allows for much higher sulphur levels in solid fuels than the laws allow in the Republic. Notwithstanding Minister Lenihan’s position and that of the government at the time, I believe that the Department of the Environment’s Air Quality Section incorrectly advised the Department of Finance that a robust mechanism was already in place. Therefore the Minister for Finance duly applied the Carbon Tax from May 1 2013,” he said.
Mr O’Sullivan believes the Government must look at an alternative model to the Carbon Tax, explaining: “There is an alternative to this Carbon Tax. The government should show its fairness to the people by going after the huge black market within the solid fuel trade in the Republic with a will, and commitment to deal with it. The black market has revenues of a minimum of €200 million but closer to €300 million from the sale of sod turf and chopped wood alone. At best, 20% of this market is tax compliant, along with a rapidly growing black market trade in other solid fuels since the introduction of the Carbon Tax”
“This government continues to pay subsidies and supports to the sod turf and wood sectors. I now call on them to have the will to regulate this trade and collect taxes, and if it delivers then those who least can afford it, of which there are many, may be happier in an austerity jacket,” he concluded.