Consumers' €110 fuel bill due to 'law breach'
Home and car owners are being overcharged more than €110 for fuel due to the Government breaching laws on oil reserves, it has been claimed.
Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry said the Government has been acting illegally by imposing a 2c levy on the cost of petrol, diesel and heating oil for the past two years. The fuel levy funds the National Oil Reserve Association (NORA) which is required to store 90 days of oil to be used in the event of national emergency.
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However, Mr MacSharry said the legislation governing NORA had been breached as the agency had a surplus of €250m on its books - at which point the levy should have been reduced.
"The legislation states that funding raised by the levy should not exceed the cost of running the agency but NORA has a surplus between €100m and €250m," he said.
"This is a breach of the law and means hard-pressed consumers who are poised to suck up the costs of increased carbon taxes are also being unfairly levied on the double to fund NORA even though the agency does not currently need the money," he added.
Mr MacSharry said the Public Accounts Committee asked the Comptroller and Auditor General to compile a report on the matter.
Irish Petroleum Industry Association chief executive Kevin McPartlan said his organisation was considering legal action over the issue. He said the inflated rate at which the levy was charged "creates an unlawful stealth tax on motorists, households, farms and businesses in Ireland".
He said rural dwellers who relied on home heating oil and did not have access to public transport were being forced to "pick up the tab" for those living in Dublin. He said based on average fuel consumption figures, consumers were paying an extra €111 a year due to the oil levy.The Government previously said it planned to repurpose the NORA legislation to use the extra funding for climate action measures.