Transfer of Special Investigations Unit staff from Agriculture to Revenue could save €42.5m
Denis Naughten TD has called on the Minister for Finance to secure the transfer of staff from the Department of Agriculture’s Special Investigations Unit to Customs & Excise to deal with the spiralling cost of fuel laundering.
“Not only is fuel laundering forcing legitimate employers out of business, it is undermining tax take putting pressure on the Minister for Finance to increase taxes on fuels which is further undermining our economic recovery,” stated Denis Naughten.
In 2012 the Revenue Commissioners are reported to have made eight separate raids on fuel laundering facilities, which had a capacity to launder 85m litres of fuel annually with a resultant loss to the state of €42.5m. During the same period British customs in Northern Ireland shut 22 fuel laundering plants which were depriving Revenue of €83m.
“While it is difficult to estimate the extent of any black economy activity, IBEC puts the cost of laundered fuel to the Exchequer at an estimated €155m p.a., so clearly there is room for further seizures south of the border,” Denis Naughten pointed out.
“To compound this problem, the cost of disposal of the waste from these facilities is €1.38m in the north and €4m in Cavan and Monaghan alone.
“At the same time the total agriculture budget has reduced by 41% since 2008. Between 2011 and 2013 the total expenditure on farm schemes has fallen by 18% — or €119m. As a result the need for the work of the Department of Agriculture’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has decreased dramatically.
“These staff have a unique skill set which would dovetail closely with the work performed by Revenue in identifying fuel laundering and other fraud detection measures.
“By redeploying staff between both organisations, it will enhance the capacity of Revenue which should not only assist it in making fuel seizures similar to their Northern Ireland counterparts but also in identifying other activity which is directly impacting on tax collection,” concluded Denis Naughten.