Memorandum submitted by the Freight Transport
I refer to the Select Committee enquiry into
the illegal sale of fuel oils in Northern Ireland to be held on
17 March 1999.
The Freight Transport Association represents
some 12,000 member companies in the UK, including 300 in Northern
Ireland, all of whom are road transport users in the own account
or road haulage sectors.
As fuel costs are a substantial element in overall
vehicle operating costs, our Northern Ireland members are extremely
concerned at the widespread use of illegal fuel smuggled into
the Province from the Republic and the resultant unfair competition.
This illicit traffic has developed because of the considerable
differential between the rates of duty charged on fuel in the
UK and the Republic of Ireland and it has produced major distortions
to transport operating costs.
The additional 6p per litre imposed in the recent
Budget will make matters worse for the road transport industry,
with operators in Northern Ireland finding it virtually impossible
to compete with firms in the Republic. It will also encourage
more smuggling, and therefore increase the unfair competition
by those using illegal fuel to undercut the haulage rates. Already
profit margins in road haulage are very low and unless some normality
is restored to the market place quickly there is a likelihood
of some firms going out of business.
The Petrol Retailers Association has given FTA
a copy of its submission to the Select Committee and for the reasons
stated above FTA fully supports this submission and its recommendations.
In addition FTA would urge that sufficient resources to be allocated
to Customs and Excise to enable effective enforcement action to
be taken to eliminate smuggling.
12 March 1999