Tuesday 16 January 2018

Dempsey ponders plan to bring in petrol tax

Fionnan Sheahan and Paul Melia

THE Government is to look at replacing motor tax and VRT with a new tax on petrol and diesel -- but the proposal is still some way off coming to fruition.

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey is not in favour of further tolling national roads as a way of raising funding for the Government for road maintenance.

But Mr Dempsey is going to consider a European model of a single fuel tax, whereby motorists pay all motor taxes on the cost of petrol.

The all-in motor tax would replace the existing annual motor tax and vehicle registration tax on new vehicles, if it was to go ahead.

The body representing truckers, the Irish Road Haulage Association, is due to deliver such a proposal to the minister outlining what it has in mind and the knock-on effects for the price of petrol and diesel.

The plan would be regarded as more equitable and those who use the roads most would pay the most -- in line with the polluter pays principle.

But no decision is expected in time for the forthcoming December Budget.


"There is no such proposal before the minister yet. If one is received, he will carefully consider it and bring it to the attention of his colleagues, because a matter of such significance and a fundamental change in policy would have to be decided by all of the Government," a spokesperson said.

In a separate development, Mr Dempsey told the Irish Independent that he was not in favour of tolling national roads to help shore up government coffers.

The Local Government Efficiency Review Group had suggested that the State could take in €200m a year by introducing new tolls on motorways and dual carriageways.

But Mr Dempsey said he had a number of reservations with the move.

"That report has the same status as the Colm McCarthy report. It's to inform government thinking in the context of budgets.

"It was agreed for publication but it hasn't been considered by the Government yet," he told the Irish Independent.

"The principle that we've operated on for tolls all the time was that where you had a tolled road you had to have an alternative so people had a choice.

"It's very difficult when you're talking about tolling national roads to provide an alternative. I would be very reluctant to break that (principle)," he added.

Irish Independent

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