- Sector facing unprecedented & grave challenges
- Brexit raises cloud of uncertainty
The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA) has called for emergency measures to be introduced by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe in October’s Budget to address a grave and unprecedented challenge being faced by the licensed road haulage industry in Ireland.
The IRHA, which is the representative body for licensed hauliers in Ireland, has warned that unless emergency measures are introduced there will be a real risk to the viability of their members and the thousands of jobs that they support. There could also be serious disruption to the efficient and timely distribution of goods within the State and to export markets if licensed hauliers are forced out of business.
Speaking ahead of a Special Board Meeting to discuss the current crisis, IRHA President Verona Murphy said that many of her members were operating on the brink of survival and required urgent measures in the Budget to ensure that the firms did not go out of business.
“Our members have faced a perfect storm over the last year. Brexit presents an immediate and real threat to our business and is already impacting on confidence within our sector given the uncertainty that it has created. This is most directly evident in the impact of the 20% Sterling differential on licensed hauliers in the Republic of Ireland competing with hauliers tendering for business from the North of Ireland or Britain. Additionally, our members have seen significant increases in their operating costs over the last 12 months through insurance increases, the impact of new regulations on the reduction of the maximum laden weight limit for articulated vehicles and de facto increases in toll charges. There is also a failure to properly enforce regulations against all licensed hauliers operating in Ireland – with Irish hauliers bearing the brunt of enforcement, but a light touch being applied to foreign based haulage firms,” commented Verona.
“Licensed hauliers play a vital role in the national economy by distributing goods to consumers and businesses throughout the country. We also play a core role in helping distribute Irish exports to foreign markets. However, the challenges our sector are facing are not sustainable and we need an emergency response from Government,” she added.
The IRHA is calling on Minister Donohoe to take specific measures in the Budget to address the challenges being faced by the sector, including;
- The introduction of a new and fair system for diesel rebates in line with the equivalent system applying in other EU countries – the rebate system needs to be amended to a floor rate of €0.85.
- No carbon tax increase for licensed hauliers adopting recognised sustainable measures to reduce fuel emissions
- Budgetary measures to address the effective increase in the operating costs of the Westlink Toll bridge by Transport Infractucture Ireland (TII) – the failure by TII to reduce the cost of the Westlink toll by 23% following the abolition of VAT on tolls is reprehensible and has added 23% to the operating cost of hauliers using this vital piece of road infrastructure. TII should be compelled by Government to pass on this saving, or else a special tax allowance on tolls should be created in the Budget to address this additional operating cost which is particularly impacting on licensed hauliers.
- A new Brexit Contingency Fund of €10m over the next 12 months to assist the licensed haulage sector to prepare for Brexit and to put in place the structures, supports and measures required to deal with the uncertainty that Brexit is presenting. This Fund could be used to support licensed hauliers seeking to upgrade their fleet, but having difficulties securing bank finance for new loans.
- A commitment that the sector will have certainty in the operating environment through no new State imposed costs or charges for at least 36 months.
“Our members are not seeking a hand out from the State or money for nothing,” added Verona Murphy. “However, given the perilous nature of many of our members’ businesses at a time of unprecedented uncertainty we do need the State to recognise the unique, challenging and grave circumstances that we face. Providing a new rebate system for diesel and toll rebates, along with no increases in the Carbon Tax would help with operating costs. A specific Brexit Contingency Fund to aid licensed hauliers access finance to upgrade their fleets would also be of huge practical support and assistance to a hard-pressed sector facing an uncertain future.”
“As a sector, we are not crying wolf – many of our members are tethering on the brink of commercial survival in a sector that operates competitively on very tight margins. In his Budget in October Minister Donohoe has the capacity to make or break our sector and we will be working hard in the coming weeks to ensure that he hears our members concerns loud and clear”.