Seanad debates

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Finance Bill 2012 (Certified Money Bill): Committee and Remaining Stages

 

1:00 am

Photo of Terry BrennanTerry Brennan (Fine Gael)

Ba mhaith liom, ar dtús, comhgairdeachas a ghabháil leis an Aire as an obair iontach atá sé ag déanamh dúinn san Eoraip. Diesel and fuel costs generally have been mentioned. I traverse a motorway at least twice a week and pass four stations owned by the same company which displays different prices, regardless of whether one is travelling north or south. The fuel is one price if one is travelling north while coming towards Dublin it is dearer. I cannot understand the reason the price is not the same at each station but that is a debate for another day.

The question of illegal diesel laundering is not mentioned in the Finance Bill but it is of grave concern to me and to many people who live in our Border counties. Illegal diesel laundering is a huge business which at one time took place close to the Border but is now alleged to take place as far south as Athlone and as far west as Galway. I do not know the figures but I estimate that anything between €80 million to €100 million is being lost in revenue to this State on an annual basis as a result of these illegal operations. That is a significant loss when we consider the cost of diesel is escalating on a daily basis. Mention was made of hauliers. Some hauliers are going out of business and others are refuelling in France, Belgium and other countries.

My question for the Minister is whether we should start the process of establishing the amount of revenue that is being lost to this State on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. I am not an accountant or an economist but I would say anything up to €80 million or €100 million per annum is being lost. I believe the figure was €50 million to €60 million two or three years ago but without doubt this illegal business is escalating and is more attractive for legal pump operators, if we can call them that, to be participate in buying the laundered diesel. I am interested to hear the Minister’s view on that, although this may not be the appropriate time to ask the question.

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