Belfast Telegraph

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No fuelling motorists, taxes are real culprit

By David Elliott

If you believe what the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is saying then we shouldn't be complaining when it comes to filling up with fuel.

They say the price of petrol or diesel at the pump isn't factoring in a huge profit margin for the oil companies and is in fact one of the most competitive in Europe.

That is, of course, until you take into consideration the tax imposed on fuel by the government, and therein lies the rub.

Although our untaxed fuel price may be the envy of drivers from the Champs Elysees to Las Ramblas, add in the tax and you could be forgiven for thinking that you have a leak in your tank.

That firmly lays the blame for the leak in profits, which haulage companies up and down the land are suffering, firmly at the door of government.

While there's nothing wrong with a policy which tries to get more of us to use public transport or our own two legs, it's getting a little out of hand when our elected representatives are happy to see fuel prices rise to the top of the tree in Europe and don't mind that it's acting as an anchor on economic progress.

Of course, that's only part of the problem.

The other is the still-strong crude oil market, one which has rallied over the last few days on the back of renewed tension in the Middle East, a region which supplies the vast majority of the world's oil. No doubt the price rise of the raw material has already been factored in to the price of fuel at the pump and that's only right given refiners need to make a profit.

But there are still question marks over why oil companies appear to drag their heels when it comes to lowering pump prices when the crude market falls.

And another area which the OFT seems to have breezed over is why diesel prices here are consistently higher than petrol while in mainland Europe the opposite is true.

Obviously we're nit-picking a bit but speak to any haulage operator or other companies which are fuel-dependent and you'll see that a move in the price of fuel of only a few pence can have a devastating affect on their profit margin.

For their sake, the Office of Fair Traiding needs to look a bit harder at the market and politicians need to seriously consider a reduction in fuel duty.


From Belfast Telegraph