Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland (SFMI) is calling on the Government to work in tandem with Local Authorities, the Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána to clamp down on unscrupulous sellers of solid fuels
The country’s leading representative body for retailers engaged in the sale of solid fuels, Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland (SFMI), has today called for additional enforcement measures to be expedited, in order to clamp down on unscrupulous sellers of smuggled solid fuels.
SFMI notes that in the current cost-of-living crisis, many hard-pressed consumers are being lured in by individuals who are selling smuggled solid fuels online, via social media and in some cases, going door-to-door. Smugglers are increasingly bringing solid fuels, such as coal, across the border from Northern Ireland, where VAT is charged at a lower rate and there is no carbon tax in place. Carbon tax in Ireland is set at €4.90 for each bag of 40kg of coal sold. As a result of this uptick in illegal activity, the viability of the solid fuels industry is now under threat, as many legitimate, law-abiding retailers are being significantly undercut.
The scale of this black-market activity represents a significant loss to the Irish Exchequer. In 2021, it was estimated that about 100,000 tonnes of coal with a retail value of €56 million were being smuggled from Northern Ireland, resulting in a total loss of VAT and carbon tax of €16.2 million to the Irish purse. If this continues, the Irish State could lose up to €130 million by 2025, owing also, to the increased rate of carbon taxation that is being applied on an annual basis up to 2030.
Acknowledging the severity of this issue, the Environmental Protection Agency has noted that, on enforcement, “Local Authorities should consider an additional focus […] particularly targeting online and mobile fuel sellers and the sale of non-compliant products”. SFMI notes that the majority of illegal products are being sold online and via social media; where smugglers feel there is no oversight or enforcement of the law.
SFMI continues to call on the Government to work in tandem with Local Authorities, the Revenue Commissioners and An Garda Síochána to clamp down on fuel smuggling, to ensure proper enforcement of existing regulations, and to recoup lost monies that must be returned to the Exchequer.