Retail Excellence today said that legitimate operators of fuel businesses will be driven out of market if smuggling is allowed to continue unabated. €2.35 billion revenue is being lost to the Irish economy as a result of smuggling in general and there is deep concern, in particular, within the fuel industry of the influx of illegal sales.
Head of Public Affairs and Communications with Retail Excellence Lorraine Higgins today said “For many of our member companies September to March is a busy time for them with inclement weather meaning solid fuel sales represent up to a half of their turnover. However, our retailers are not competing on a level playing field despite the cold snap. Stocks are high in most our member businesses right now just as illegal business is thriving”.
“This situation can be easily explained by the influx of fuel being brought in from Northern Ireland without carbon tax being paid on it. We have received some reports that gangs are travelling the length and breadth of the country selling this fuel and our road network is a brilliant way for them to harvest the benefits of their illegal activity”.
“However, while tax is one concern there is a more serious issue at hand pertaining to safety. We have been informed that counterfeit coal bags are being used containing unsafe coal with a higher sulphur content which can be explosive and volatile. Consequently, consumers need to be vigilant and should also be aware that legal briquettes have a green band on them. If they are wrapped with a yellow one then they have emananted from another jurisdiction and are illegal here without carbon tax being paid”.
“It is clear that these criminal gangs are flouting the law but we need to be more proactive in clamping down on this and realise that it is an omnipresent activity. Failure to be proactive at this time will lead to the collapse of legitimate trade and then everyone loses” Lorraine Higgins concluded.