By Dan Walsh
Wexford Independent TD Verona Murphy engaged in lively exchanges with An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, regards massive fuel prices hikes in Leader’s Question Time in Dáil Éireann today and featured strongly on RTÉ News bulletins while celebrated columnist Miriam Lord featured the Wexford women in her writings in The Irish Times.
Deputy Murphy addressed the Taoiseach about the composition of the price of a litre of fuel this morning and outlined costs and taxes. “While it may vary around the country, the diesel pump price that I have been given this morning is €1.899 and it may be higher in certain parts of the country. The Government tax take is 96.58 cent, which is 50.86%. Taxes applied include excise duty, carbon tax and the National Oil Reserves Agency, NORA, levy. The actual pump price for petrol this morning is €1.922, which also may be higher in parts of the country. All Government duties include excise duty, carbon tax and the NORA levy. The actual price per litre without those duties, which add 55.23%, is €1.0653. VAT is actually applied to the aforementioned taxes at 23%. Is that not right? VAT is applied to excise at 23% and then onto the base price as well. The 23% is added to the carbon tax, the NORA levy and excise duty. The Government should not be doing that.
Deputy Murphy continued; “The reductions the Taoiseach is reporting today are not reductions at all, are they? It is the equivalent of the tax on tax because the tax that is on the tax on a litre of petrol is actually 20 cent. That is the tax that is on the excise. That is the 20 cent reduction we are supposed to be getting. The tax on the tax on a litre of diesel is 18 cent. Therefore, the Taoiseach has 3 cent to play around with, but he is trying to tell the people that he is doing them a favour. I just cannot believe it. To be fair, Dick Turpin wore a mask when he robbed the people but the Taoiseach can sit here barefaced and tell them that he has done something that he believes will save them. It is time to be honest with the people and it is time to be transparent. The Government is adding tax on tax at a time when the most vulnerable and marginalised income earners in this country are choosing between heating and eating. The Government is adding VAT to excise duty, VAT to carbon tax and VAT to the NORA levy at a rate of 23% on petrol and diesel.”
An Taoiseach said “the Government works on behalf of the people. The revenues that the Government works with are generated by the people in the economy through taxes. All revenue in this country in respect of energy taxes has been well debated in this House and across Europe. There are energy directives that we cannot flout or ignore.”
An Taoiseach continued; “The fundamental point I am making is that revenue generated across the economy, be it income tax, VAT or whatever, is used to invest in services such as education, health, social protection and across the board. That is the bottom line. The Government has decided to reduce petrol by 20 cent a litre and diesel by 15 cent a litre. It is not possible to remove all excise duty as the Deputy has suggested. It simply cannot be done.
The verbal exchanges between the Taoiseach and Deputy Murphy continued.
An Taoiseach explained; “The point is that more expenditure will be required. We are only in March and we have already allocated an extra €800 million in about five weeks because of the international crisis and the war. That is the reality. No government wants to preside over escalating energy and fuel prices. We want to cushion the blow for people, both for households, for whom we would do more if we could, and in respect of the price at the pump. However, this is an internationally traded commodity. That is a fact and we have to deal with that reality. I think the measures today will help people in bringing prices down somewhat.”
Deputy Murphy concluded; “Not removing the taxes is a measure we will all live to regret. Not doing so will increase the cost of the food the Government wants the farmers to produce up in the heavens and add to the cost of tractor fuel. Two cent a litre is a joke, but the farmers are not laughing. Not removing tax and VAT will drive inflation through the roof and drive the country head-on into a deep, dark recession that will make the 1980s look like a holiday. It would be funny except that the joke is on us.”