There is a need to cut taxes on petrol and diesel immediately as consumers face dramatic price hikes when filling up their cars, the government has been told.
Despite fuel excise duty cuts earlier this year, soaring costs have wiped out that reduction, with motorists now seeing prices of up to €2.25 a liter at the pump. Statistics from pumps.ie show prices as high as £2.19 a liter of petrol and £2.10 a liter of diesel in Cork yesterday.
Transport expert Conor Faughnan said the prices “are a disaster as far as consumers are concerned”.
“This is one of the most tangible impacts of inflation that we feel,” he said. “It costs hundreds of euros more to fill the car.” Yesterday, the price of Brent crude oil was above $123 a barrel, its highest level in three months.
While the price of a barrel of oil was around $20 higher during the financial crash of 2008, Mr Faughnan said Ireland was on the wrong side of the exchange rate with the dollar this time, contributing to the rising costs.
“The price of oil is not unprecedented,” he said. “The big difference for us is the exchange rate between the euro and the dollar. In 2008, one euro brought in $1.47. It earns you $1.06 today. The last time, the exchange rate somewhat protected us.
Anna Cullen, spokeswoman for AA Ireland, said the rise in the price of oil since March also coincides with factors such as increased demand in the United States during its traditional “driving season” during the months summer and the EU’s announcement that it would agree to ban most Russian oil imports.
“For a while there, the price of diesel was higher than gasoline,” she said. “But we’ve seen gasoline pick up again as demand increases.”
These problems are not exclusive to Ireland.
In the UK, car company RAC described Thursday as a “really bleak day” for drivers as the latest data showed filling a typical family car with petrol exceeded £100.
Britain’s unions have also claimed workers are sick because they have no money for petrol, as they urge the government and private sector to raise wages amid pressures from the cost of fuel. life.
At home, the unions also hear their members’ concerns about the rising cost of living. Chris O’Leary, a Siptu activist and community worker, said community and voluntary sector staff often have to dip into their own pockets to cover travel costs to provide essential care.
“It’s a real worry,” he said. “I hear it quite clearly from the people who are going to deliver meals on wheels, those who work with people with disabilities. Even school transport for young people attending certain schools. They all find it a huge pressure right now.
“The work we do is essential,” he added.
“Going out to help the most vulnerable in society. We constantly hear these stories. Nobody wants a situation where people are forced to leave the sector because of their conditions.
Meanwhile, the Fórsa union is due to meet government officials at the Workplace Relations Commission on Monday as it demands wage increases to address the cost of living challenges facing workers.
Both sides believe talks could be concluded “fairly quickly” but, despite reports suggesting unions will seek broader cost-of-living measures aimed at supporting workers and their families, Fórsa said the wage and standard of living were the only objective. .
“We have made it clear that our sole focus is wages, the cost of living and the impact of inflation on workers and their families,” General Secretary Kevin Callinan said.
Talks are also underway in the private sector aimed at securing wage increases to deal with growing pressures, but in the meantime the government is urged to do what it can now to ease the price of fuel and relieve pressure on beleaguered consumers.
Calling for an emergency budget, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said the rate of excise duty on petrol and diesel should be reduced to the minimum allowable level.
The government has so far refused to commit to pre-budget action on the fuel issue and Conor Faughnan said taking a wait-and-see approach is one of two options available.
“They might try to ride out the storm and hope the impact is temporary,” Faughnan said. “But the only card they have is excise duties and carbon taxes. It is not in the government’s gift to work miracles. They can’t do anything about the geopolitical situation or the exchange rate.
“The only card they hold is domestic taxation.
Indeed, the price of fuel in Ireland is currently similar to that of our EU neighbours, with many other Member States experiencing higher costs.
Mr Faughnan admitted it would be a ‘political challenge’ to have to raise those taxes again if the government saw the storm and, given the uncertainty surrounding the current situation, taking no action could end up working in their favor .
“But I think the immediate need is so acute and their ability to act is available, that may be the best solution,” he added.
In the meantime, and in lieu of government action, there are relatively small but effective ways motorists can try to save money on their fuel.
Anna Cullen of AA Ireland said literally slowing down from 120km to 100km or 110km on a motorway can significantly reduce fuel consumption. Ensuring your tire pressure is correct can also help, and with summer approaching, not using the air conditioner too much would also be an advantage.
“Our advice in the past was to try to shop around,” she said. “Unfortunately, with such high prices, it’s no longer useful.”