Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions
To ask the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government the number of motorists paying road tax broken down by band; the total amount paid per band to each local authority in 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54348/12]
I thank the Minister of State and look forward to the information. I might ask a further question subsequent to receiving it.
My question is on foot of reports to the effect that the Government is seeking to raise a further €100 million from this section in tomorrow's budget. It would come on top of last year's increase of 50% in the case of CO2 band cars. Has the Government abandoned efforts to promote environmentally friend vehicles or does it have a new initiative of which no one is aware to promote these vehicles?
In regard to the household charge fiasco last year and the manner in which the Department cut the Central Fund to local authorities on foot of the collection, or lack of, on the part of some local authorities, was the Minister not mindful at any time in the entire saga of the fact that many motorists had paid their motor tax and that they were not taken into consideration when he then saw fit to cut the budgets of local authorities, and in doing that saw fit to cut the funding available to local authorities to deal with secondary, primary and regional roads? Had the Minister not thought of them when he cut the funding? Did he not think about people telephoning radio stations this morning to report that no salt gritting had been applied to many roads throughout the country? They were not taken into consideration when the Minister made the decision to cut local authority funding in the manner in which he did. In my local authority, for example, this year more than €500,000 has been taken from a budget that it had agreed in good faith this time last year. I have no doubt it would have taken seriously its role in the collection of the household charge had it been properly organised, given proper notice, informed in time and given the support necessary in order to do it properly.
On a positive light, when people go to a Garda station to say that their car has not been driven for X amount of time and therefore they do not have to pay their motor tax, it is commonly referred to as gapping. We are dealing with that. The loss to the Exchequer is believed to be approximately €55 million per annum. The matter will be dealt with shortly. The Minister, Deputy Hogan, has a file with the Attorney General on the issue. We are ensuring that does not happen. In future one will have to declare in advance that one’s car will be off the road before one can benefit. Whatever happens in this or any other budget, any changes the Government makes will be in line with the terms of reference of the review which we announced last year. The adjustment of CO2 bands and rates of VRT and motor tax in line with technological advances in motor vehicles will maintain a positive environmental incentive to reduce transport emissions and ensure a stable funding base for motor taxes. If anything were to happen, one would still have an incremental difference.
I take it from the response the Minister of State agrees with my allegation that when the Government decided to cut funding to local authorities in the manner in which it did in the middle of the year, it had no consideration whatsoever for the motorist who had paid his motor tax in good faith and the expectation he had for the maintenance of the roads in his county.
That is one of the reasons we got into the current mess. We are trying to clear up the last mess Fianna Fáil made when in government and part of the process is, unfortunately, what needs to happen. Any differentiation that existed previously with reduced CO2 emissions will continue even in the event of a change.