Thursday, 22 March 2012
Finance Bill 2012 (Certified Money Bill): Committee and Remaining Stages
Trevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
While I appreciate the Minister's comments, I believe the point made by Senator O'Brien is very important. The Government tells us it is not increasing income tax but saying so is really a sleight of hand. If I fill my tank of heating oil for my home and it costs 20% to 40% more than it used to, 20% to 40% of my disposable income is no longer available. This is money out of my pocket. It is indirect taxation and people are certainly feeling it.
I appreciate the Minister's point that the changes made on budget night made only a very slight difference to the cost of a litre of diesel or petrol. Some of his colleagues asked this morning what percentage of the money spent on a litre of diesel or petrol is revenue for the State. The figure stated this morning was 80%. Is that correct? If so, it is anti-competitive. Senator Quinn would be very aware that in business there is a certain point beyond which the price of a commodity drives people out of the market. This is the exact point the Irish Road Haulage Association was making. It is willing to take a certain amount of pressure but its perspective changed when the cost went over €1.50 or €1.60. It is saying that if its members want to survive in business, they cannot afford to pay the price. If the revenue to the Exchequer is such a high percentage of the overall cost of a litre of diesel or petrol, this must be taken into consideration.
The Minister should consider the rural aspect. The measure is very unfair on rural communities. The Minister is increasing exponentially the cost paid by somebody living in rural area, on top of increasing the cost of school transport, etc. It is very punitive for rural communities.