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New reporting restrictions 'could close 300 rural petrol stations'

The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association says new licence structures will cost them time and money.

Image: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

AN ASSOCIATION representing rural fuel retailers has suggested that up to 300 stations could be squeezed out of business as a result of new licencing restrictions imposed by the Revenue Commissioners.

The Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association (CSNA) says the introduction of a new ‘Marked Fuel Traders Licence’, introduced in the Finance Act 2012, will impose extra costs and administrative requirements on individual businesses.

The new licence – introduced two weeks ago – is in addition to an auto-fuel traders’ licence, which retailers are required to have in order to dispense everyday petrol and diesel. Each licence costs €250.

The new two-licence system replaces the Mineral Oil Trader’s Licence, which had previously covered all fuels including petrol, diesel, kerosene and green diesel.

The Marked Fuel Traders Licence, however, also require fuel retailers to submit a mandatory monthly online return of all movements of kerosene and marked gas (or ‘green diesel’) – including records of opening and closing stock balances, and details of all individual sales.

CSNA chief executive Vincent Jennings said traders had not been given any rationale for the splitting of the two licences – adding that there was “an enormous disparity and disproportionality at play in this decision”.

“We cannot believe that they have proposed this solution without considering the additional financial and administrative cost associated with this new regime,” he said, calling on the Revenue and the Department of Finance to abolish the new system.

Last night a Revenue spokeswoman defended the measures by saying illegal fuel trading posed “a very serious threat to the Exchequer, through the loss of revenue from Mineral Oil Tax and other taxes”.

“It is therefore a key aim for Revenue to act against all aspects of this illegal trade, including the emerging trend of the sale of laundered diesel through filling stations.

This action will both deter and severely limit the opportunities for criminal activity, protect legitimate business and employment, secure tax and duty yields for the Exchequer and reduce the threat posed to the environment by activities such as fuel laundering.

The spokeswoman added that it was important that Revenue could identify all traders who were involved in dealing green diesel and kerosene, and be able to monitor the movement of any such products.

“Revenue consulted extensively with oil trade representative groups on these measures and the general reaction of such groups has been positive,” she said.

“As well as safeguarding the tax take from mineral oils, it is expected that the new measures will help the legitimate trade by cracking down and putting out of business those traders dealing in illicit oil.”

Explainer: What is laundered fuel?

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Gavan Reilly

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