11 Feb 2003

Fuel Group Disappointed by Governments Lethergy

FUEL GROUP DISAPPOINTED BY GOVERNMENTS LETHERGY

Brian Donaldson, Chairman of the Legitimate Oil Pressure Group and General Manager, Marketing and Retail of the Maxol Group, today, (Tuesday 11 February 2003) spoke out in response to the Government’s decision to hold fuel duty tax at its current level in Northern Ireland.

 He citied the response by the Government to The impact of ‘Cross Border Road Fuel Price Differentials in Northern Ireland: Three Years On’ as a bitter blow for the future of Northern Ireland’s petrol retailing industry and further bait for smugglers to continue illegal operations in the province.

“In May of last year I highlighted the problem of fuel smuggling in Northern Ireland and the subsequent loss to both legitimate trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a special meeting with the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee,” he said, “despite the NI Affairs Committee supporting this proposal the Government has again failed to take any action.

“With variances in excise duty rates in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remaining high, the business of trading, selling and supplying washed or smuggled fuel is sure to continue.

“As an industry we have been forced to take action to ensure motorists are warned of the damage which can be caused to car engines by smuggled fuel and in August 2002, Maxol set up a Quality Assurance Scheme guaranteeing its customers that its fuel is UK standard approved. The Government has conducted no such consumer advertising campaigns.

“The problem is that there are not enough measures in place to deter the people involved in this type of crime. The industry was hoping to be thrown a life line today but instead the Government has stubbornly done nothing to help support the legitimate fuel business in the province.”

Ends
Notes to editors:

1. A report to Parliament, published in February by the National Audit Office, Customs and Excise, revealed an estimated £380m was lost to the UK Treasury due to fraud, smuggling and legitimate cross border shopping in Northern Ireland in the year 2000. It also exposed the fact that up to 450 of the Province's 700 filling stations sold some illegal fuel with as many as 36% selling only illegal fuel.

2. LOPG is a lobbying voice for the petroleum industry set up in 1996 to respond to the growing problem of fuel smuggling and laundering. It has the support of AUKOI, Conoco, BP, Shell, Texaco, Maxol John Henderson Group, CBI and cross party endorsement at a local level.

3. For further information please contact Pamela Beatty, Citigate Northern Ireland on 02890-395500 or Brian Donaldson, Chairman of the Legitimate Oil Pressure Group and Group Marketing Manager of Maxol Oil Limited.

4. Brian is available for interview/comment on 07831-314751.
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