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16 Mar 2005

Motorists Given Another Duty Reprieve - But Only For Six Months!


Northern Ireland's motorists today (16th March 2005) breathed a sigh of relief after being granted a temporary reprieve when the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a freeze on tax on petrol and diesel until 1st September 2005 citing volatility in the world price of crude oil as the basis for his decision.

But Brian Donaldson, General Manager, Marketing and Retail of the Maxol Group and Director of the Oil Promotion Federation stated that the move was of no long term help to Northern Ireland's motorists or the petrol retailing industry in general.

He said: "Whilst any freeze is to be welcomed the Chancellor has yet again pledged a tax rise on the price of petrol and diesel at the pump in 6 months time and this will do nothing to solve the problems faced by motorists here.

"For the poor motorist the overall weight of taxation is an appalling 75 per cent of the cost at the pump of unleaded petrol and diesel through duty and VAT taxes. Across the continent no other country faces these high duty excise rates, Greece's rate is as low as 20% with VAT of 18% - only Denmark and the Netherlands face a comparable taxation burden."

"For too long the government has used stealth taxes such as taxation on petrol and diesel as an easy option for raising revenue under the premise of benefiting the environment and encouraging motorists to abandon their vehicles and use public transport systems instead. In Northern Ireland, where no practical network of public transport exists this is an unreasonable expectation. One only has to look towards Dublin where the introduction of the Luas and its plans for an underground transport system to see what the government should be doing in Northern Ireland if these pipe-dreams are to be met."

"Maxol Oil has been instrumental in lobbying the government to redress the ongoing problems faced by retailers and the motorist caused by the high levels of government tax on fuel in the Province. The huge differential in the rate of duty and tax levied in Northern Ireland in comparison to the Republic of Ireland has lead to a large migration of petrol and diesel sales from the North to the South and to the rise of a sophisticated and substantial network of suppliers delivering laundered and illegal product into Northern Ireland. We will continue to lobby the government until there is a reduction in the tax and duty payable on petrol and diesel in Northern Ireland and a level playing field for fuel prices has been created on the island of Ireland."

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