Thursday, 15 November 2007
Tony Killeen (Clare, Fianna Fail)
Gabhaim buíochas leis an Seanadóir Ó Domhnaill as ucht an ábhar tábhachtach seo a phlé ós comhair an tSeanaid. Táim ag tabhairt an fhreagra seo thar ceann an Aire Iompair, an Teachta Ó Díomasaigh.
The current fuel duty rebate scheme for passenger bus transport services is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Finance and the Revenue Commissioners. The 2003 EU energy tax directive incorporated special derogations which allowed specific excise duty reliefs to be applied in a number of member states. In the Irish context, these derogations allowed for reduced rates to apply to fuel used for scheduled public and private bus services and bus tour services.
When these derogations expired on 31 December 2006, Ireland and other member states sought retention of their derogations beyond that date. However the European Commission, which is the deciding authority, has refused all such requests. The Commission maintains that, in keeping with the EU energy tax directive, member states must apply at least the EU minimum rates of excise on fuels in such circumstances and that any further favourable excise treatment is not allowable. The Commission's decision was published on its website in March 2007.
Officials from the Department of Transport are currently engaging with officials from the Department of Finance to explore the possibility of replacing the scheme where appropriate by alternative non-tax financial support mechanisms to achieve the same policy objectives, subject to EU state aid requirements. I understand that in the interim the reduced rates applicable to fuel used for public transport services will be maintained.