Brian Donaldson, General Manager, Marketing and Retail of the Maxol Group, today, (Tuesday 24th October 2006) spoke out in response to the Governments decision to reject the recommendation of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee for parity on the level of fuel duty levied across the Island of Ireland.
This is another missed opportunity to assist the legitimate petrol retailing industry in Northern Ireland as well as further bait for fuel smugglers to continue their illegal operations in the region. He said.
The legitimate market in Northern Ireland represents just 50% of fuel sales here which highlights the scale of fuel smuggling operations and indeed the huge revenue which is currently being lost to the Exchequer which is estimated to be in the region of £140m per year.
Whilst I understand that there are a number of administrative difficulties in establishing parity of duty across Ireland, to refuse it completely is simply sending out the wrong message to smugglers to continue their illegal trade.
It also shows no mercy to the honest petrol retailers in Northern Ireland, who have had to operate through extremely difficult times over the past 12 years due to the duty imbalance and which have been further exasperated in recent times due to political events.
Maxol has been instrumental in lobbying the Government for many years for a level playing field as regards to the duty applicable on both sides of the border.
Northern Ireland must be treated as a special case within the UK if the legitimate trade is to have any hope of making an honest living and indeed the Government must be seen to send out a strong message to those involved in smuggling that their illegal trade will not be tolerated.