The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has given a mixed reception to Budget 2018 welcoming news that there has been no road increase in the cost of diesel and road tax.
IRHA President Verona Murphy says that Budget 2018 goes someway towards recognising the enormous challenges that Irish road hauliers are facing arising from Brexit and related market uncertainty.
However, Ms Murphy says that the Budget has failed to deliver in a number of core areas for the sector – particularly concerning rebates for the effective increase in road tolls by TII and a new fuel rebate system at meaningful levels.
Ms Murphy said that hauliers will welcome the fact that excise on diesel, the carbon tax and the road tax have not been increased. However, she said the Budget represented a missed opportunity for the Government to introduce measures that could assist hauliers prepare for the enormous changes that Brexit will bring for the sector.
While the IRHA welcomed the fact that excise on diesel had not been increased, there was real concern that in many other respects the Budget fell well short of the measures required to support a sector which is deeply challenged.
In particular the IRHA is deeply disappointed that there has been no change to the system of fuel rebates. There was also concern that the Minister for Finance has not moved to nullify the impact of an effective price rise on road tolls for hauliers arising from the abolition of VAT on the Westlink Bridge.
“The Irish entrepreneurs in the haulage business that the IRHA represent will be disappointed with what is missing from this Budget. Instead of demonstrating that the Government gets the challenges that the sector is facing as Brexit looms, the budgetary proposals demonstrate that the Government is paying lip service about being “Brexit ready” for a sector that is already directly exposed to Brexit.”
The IRHA President said that Budget 2018 demonstrated a limited recognition of the challenges faced by licensed road hauliers.
“In recent months our members have been hit with new charges and levies, new regulatory obligations and additional costs, all at a time when we are meant to be preparing our businesses for the dramatic changes that Brexit will create for our trading environment. The Budget was a missed opportunity for the Government to show that it grasps the scale of the challenges that we face and it will damage rather than support struggling businesses in our sector.”
Ms Murphy said that her organisation would be seeking an urgent meeting with An Taoiseach to ensure that there is a government approach to the haulage sector, in particular the sector will seek to access the working capital fund that has been set up for sectors that are exposed to Brexit. They will also be lobbying the opposition and seeking measures as part of the Finance Bill to address the challenges that the sector faces.