Some 1,500 trucks carry 80% of the country’s goods and 95% of the country’s exports, Carlow/Kilkenny Fianna Fáil Deputy John McGuinness told the Dáil.
Speaking during a debate on a Fianna Fáil Bill which sought a 5 cent per litre reduction in the price of petrol and diesel, he said he had a vested interest here because that was his background and he made no apology for that.
“Hauliers have seen 1,300 truck licences being dropped in the past few years and have seen their costs soar,” he said. “What is misunderstood, or not understood at all, by this Government is the fact that those businesses are generally family-owned and employ a large number of people in a local community and contribute very positively to the economy. The Government refuses to consider what other countries are doing for hauliers and it refuses to give them a break in terms of their commitment to their colleagues and the people they employ. That is a disgrace.”
The proposition to cut the price of fuel was a small amount of money in the scheme of things and it could easily be replaced if the Government cut the costs to allow the hauliers to fill up at home.
“It should for once show an understanding of the case being made by an organisation which is keeping the country going,” he said. “Diesel surcharges are being placed on companies and they are passing them on to the end-user, the consumer, including the shops on high streets whose businesses are bleeding and which have nothing else to offer the economy. The Government shows them no understanding whatsoever.”
Deputy McGuinness said the Government had turned its back on the business world and had left it to sweat and to lose jobs. “It has refused to assist it. It has increased VAT and has refused to consider propositions such as this. It is acting in the most arrogant manner I have ever seen. When in opposition it often accused the last Government of being arrogant but it could be argued it took 15 years to become arrogant while it took this one less than 12 months.”
“I for one am deeply disappointed with the response to this proposition and the response generally to business people in this country and to ordinary citizens who are so hard pressed that they cannot meet their costs. The Government does not understand that.”