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Cut drivers some slack, minister

Today we report that the average cost of running a car, excluding depreciation, now exceeds €5,200 per year.

This is up €400 on the 2011 figure, with most of the increase being caused by the increased excise duties and higher VAT rates imposed by the Government in last month's budget.

Running a car in Ireland is now a seriously expensive business. The Irish Independent now estimates the average cost at €5,251 a year. That's more than €100 per week or almost one-sixth of the average, pre-tax, private-sector wage.

Motorists were hit hard in the most recent Budget. Higher "carbon taxes" (effectively an excise duty on motor fuel) and the 2pc increase in the VAT rate pushed up petrol and diesel prices, with the average cost per litre at the pumps now approaching €1.60.

The higher VAT rate also increased the price of motor parts and consumables such as tyres.

The Government also pushed up motor tax in the Budget, while earlier government decisions have resulted in all motorists paying a 2pc levy on their insurance policies to fund the bailout of Quinn Insurance and a 10c increase in road tolls.

And if the Government gets its way the burden on motorists will be further increased.

In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Michael Noonan promised a "review", ie to increase, the Vehicle Registration Tax paid by everyone registering a car for the first time.

Don't do it, minister.

With new car sales having collapsed by more than 30pc in the second half of 2011, and the cost of running a car having soared, the Government urgently needs to cut motorists some slack.