Politics

Fuel retailers have faced ‘abuse bordering on violence’ over price hikes


Motorists are currently facing extra fuel costs of up to €700-per-year due to the high cost of oil, TDs and Senators will be told.

The Automobile Association (AA) will warn the Oireachtas Committee on Transport that every 20c increase in the price of petrol adds €240 to the annual fuel bill of an average driver.

In a separate submission to the committee, the Irish Petrol Retailers Association (IPRA) says some staff refused to work due to abuse they received over allegations of gouging and profiteering in the media in the week that the Government cut excise on petrol and diesel.

Its spokesman David Blevings says that when the Government announced the excise cuts retailers could not possibly implement them immediately “without taking a huge hit and losing money on stock in tank”.

His submission blames Government messaging for “widespread abuse to retailers, bordering on violence” in the week of the excise cuts.

The IPRA says its approximately 500 members are mostly family-owned businesses who purchase fuel from the major oil companies based on the previous market day closing price. It says that when members buy fuel they are usually committing to buying 38,000 litres per order and the stock can last up to a week for some smaller sites.

Mr Blevings says the Government should have issued a statement saying the price decreases would not be immediate because of fuel in retailers tank purchased before the excise cut.

The Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) will tell the committee that soaring fuel costs are unsustainable for a sector which is being pushed “to the brink of collapse”. It will call for a number of measures to help including reducing VAT on fuel to 9 per cent.

The committee is meeting on Wednesday to examine the increase in the price of fuel caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Chief Executive of AA Ireland Tom McIllduff says the organisation’s research shows the the average price for fuel currently stands at €1.84 for petrol and €1.90 for diesel.

The AA estimates that the average car owner is spending €2,234 on petrol per year or €1,900 on diesel per year. That is €680 more per year than a petrol car driver paid two years ago and €700 more for a diesel vehicle owner.

Mr McIllduff says the Government’s excise duty cut until the end of August will be welcomed by motorists but the longer-term future is uncertain and difficult to predict.

Consumer complaints

Elsewhere, the Committee on Enterprise will discuss fuel costs and pricing practices with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

CCPC chairman Jeremy Godfrey will tell the committee that it has received almost 200 complaints about fuel pricing in the past two weeks and these complaints are being assessed.

In general the complaints allege that filling stations failed to pass on the excise duty reduction in a timely manner, or that they have exploited the current economic situation to raise fuel prices and increase profits.

The CCPC statement says some complaints include allegations of collusion.

Mr Godfrey is expected to urge anyone who has specific information about collusion or any breach of competition or consumer protection law to provide it to the CCPC and he will say that whistleblowers can do this anonymously.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil on Tuesday the Government would give consideration to further actions to help people and businesses with rising energy costs.

However, Mr Varadkar said the Government had to be honest with people and that there were “many other demands on the public purse”.

Mr Varadkar was responding to Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said workers and families had been hit by “a barrage of energy hikes”. She called for VAT on energy bills to be removed for at least a period of three months and for excise duty on home heating oil to be removed.



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