Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland, the leading representative body for Irish solid fuel retailers, today, Tuesday 19th September, submitted its Pre-Budget 2024 submission to the Department of Finance. The submission, entitled “Tackling Smuggling to Safeguard Businesses and the Environment” was prepared by Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland’s Public Affairs team and focuses on the pressing issue of solid fuel smuggling into the Republic of Ireland and the detrimental impact it poses to legitimate businesses across the nation.
Since its establishment last year, Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland has been dedicated to promoting the interests of its members and the broader solid fuel industry. As the industry’s most authoritative voice, the organisation is committed to advocating for policies that foster fair competition and ensure a level playing field for all businesses involved.
A new report produced by Morley Economic Consultants underscores the urgent need for robust enforcement measures to combat the growing menace of solid fuel smuggling. The report states that over 33% of Solid Fuels on sale in this jurisdiction are sold illegally. Illicit activities not only undermine the integrity of the solid fuel market but also threaten the viability of legitimate businesses that diligently comply with environmental regulations and contribute to the Irish economy.
Chairperson of SFMI, Colin Ahern, of Kilkenny’s Marble City Fuels stated, “The issue of solid fuel smuggling is a significant concern for our members and the wider solid fuel sector in Ireland. It not only leads to revenue losses for the government but also puts legitimate businesses at a severe disadvantage. We call on the government to take decisive action to protect our industry from unfair competition and preserve the livelihoods of countless hardworking people.”
Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland’s Pre-Budget 2024 submission proposes a comprehensive framework to tackle the smuggling problem and associated issues for retailers head-on.
Among other items, the submission calls for:
Funding for Enforcement: A clamp down on the sale of high-sulphur content fuel imported from the UK, with enhanced resources made available to the local authorities and the Revenue Commissioners for this purpose.
Just Transition Funding: With solid fuel merchants facing an existential crisis as a consequence of policies and legislative imperatives binding the sector, it is crucial that any transition plans contain a ring-fenced allocation of funding for the sector
A fuel merchants’ registration requirement: Under the Solid Fuel Regulations, all producers of solid fuels must register with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On that basis, it is SFMI’s contention that legislative alignment should become a reality so that retailers of such products are bound by the same rules.
“Solid Fuel Merchants Ireland firmly believes that effective action against solid fuel smuggling will yield positive outcomes not only for the industry but also for the overall economy and the environment. By curbing smuggling, the government can ensure a level playing field for all businesses, foster growth and investment, and promote sustainable practices.” Mr Ahern concluded.
SFMI looks forward to continuing to engage in constructive dialogue with policymakers to address the pressing issue of solid fuel smuggling effectively.