Finance minister is urged to postpone excise duty hike on fuel as motorists advised to fill up before Monday

Border forecourts face going out of business as drivers will head North, warns fuel importers body

From the start of April, the cost of a litre of petrol will rise by 5c once Vat is added in, with 4c to be added to a litre of diesel.

This is the second-last move to restore the full excise duty on motor fuels.

There will be similar rises in August when excise duty levels on petrol, diesel and green diesel are fully restored.

And motorists are facing another two hikes in the cost of petrol and diesel in the next 12 months.

The four rises are likely to add around 15c to the cost per litre of ­petrol and around 12c to a litre of diesel.

The increases are leading to a gap in pricing between here and ­Northern Ireland, which has raised fears that fuel retailers on this side of the ­Border will be put out of business.

In addition to the two excise duty increases, a third rise in the cost of petrol and diesel is due in October’s Budget, when the planned hike in carbon tax is expected to add around 3c to a litre.

There is expected to be a fourth rise in the cost of pump prices at the start of January, when an increase in the biofuels component of transport fuels will add between 1c and 2c to the cost per litre of both fuels.

Outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week ruled out any further postponing of the excise duty rises.

Consumers’ Association of Ireland chairman Michael Kilcoyne said motorists should fill up over the weekend before the excise duty rises are imposed on petrol and diesel.

And he called again for the Department of Finance to defer next week’s imposition of higher duty.

“It is not too late to defer this. It should be put off until later in the year because the cost-of-living issue has not gone away. People are still struggling with rising prices,” Mr Kilcoyne said.

He said people outside of the cities and larger towns had no choice except to use their cars.

Mr Kilcoyne said the Government was taxing motorists far too heavily and called on Finance Minister Michael McGrath to postpone the next two hikes in excise duty until after the Budget.

Forecourt retailers near the Border are under huge pressure after a 10c gap in the price per litre of petrol opened up, prompting motorists from the Republic to head to the North to fill up.

There are around 390 forecourt ­retailers in the border counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth.

The representative body for fuel importers, distributors and retailers, Fuels for Ireland, called on Mr McGrath to postpone the planned increase in excise duty on fuels scheduled for April 1.

Kevin McPartlan, of Fuels for Ireland, said UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt had extended a reduction in excise duty for 12 months.

He said the two excise duty increases scheduled for April and August would lead to a significant difference in fuel prices between Ireland and the North. This would have a huge impact on retailers operating in the border counties.

Mr McPartlan said they would be at such a disadvantage that many faced the prospect of going out of business.

Fuels for Ireland called for the establishment of an expert group by the Department of Finance to review the taxation of energy for transport and heating.

Mr McGrath has rejected calls to further postpone the full restoration of the duties on motor fuels.

He said he recognised that households and businesses continued to face challenges.

However, the Government must strike the appropriate balance between providing support and avoiding fuelling cyclical inflationary trends, he said in a Dáil reply.

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