More punitive penalties, regular inspections, the introduction of a registration system and an overhaul of current legislation for licensing people who sell oil are crucial to tackling the problem of fuel laundering.
Following meetings with a number of stakeholders and interested parties, the Joint Committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht has identified five key recommendations for consideration and for possible inclusion by the Minister for Finance in the context of the Finance Bill. Among the recommendations are:
* The introduction of a registration system for fuel users, distributors and retailers thereby providing a verifiable ‘track and trace system’ which would facilitate a supply chain analysis.
* Current legislation governing the licensing of persons to sell oil should be strengthened to make it more difficult for launderers to get their product into the market place. It should also include a condition that a trader must have planning permission to sell fuel on a premises or to acquire a change of use.
* Consideration should be given to carrying out inspections on a more regular and consistent basis. The inspection regime should be strengthened to ensure dealers are more accountable with improvements required in record keeping. This would enable better traceability and the tracking of the movement of fuel.
* More punitive penalties should be introduced for retailers who engage in selling illegal fuel with the aim of deterring this activity and to also ensure that rogue operators cannot set up in business again.
* Consideration should be given to the introduction of an Essential User Fuel Rebate for Irish road hauliers to assist in relieving the pressures on the industry. These pressures have been exacerbated by fuel price increases and such a system could help to sustain the long-term viability of an industry which is of strategic importance in facilitating the export-led economic recovery and ultimately the economic growth of the country.
Committee Chairman Ciaran Lynch TD says: “Laundered diesel is costing the State as much as millions of euros each year in lost revenue. It is also costing jobs in legitimate businesses which are finding it difficult to compete against black market operators. On top of this, there is a massive environmental issue from the illegal washing out of agricultural diesel to sell it on for road use. As a result the Committee has agreed to forward these recommendations to the Minister for Finance for consideration and for possible inclusion in the context of the Finance Bill.”