There is no sign of relief in sight from super-high prices that have afflicted Irish motorists in recent months. The average price of both fuels rose sharply again at the pumps as oil price increases are applied on top of government taxes.
A litre of petrol now costs 162.1 cent (March 2012 ), up 5.1 cent from last month and 7.2 cent since the start of 2012. Diesel is up by 3.3 cent per litre from February to an average price of 157.7, 4.6 cent higher than it was at the start of the year. Oil prices continue to climb because of a combination of factors including the ongoing European and global financial uncertainty, the weak euro, and geopolitical factors such as the tensions with Iran over its nuclear programme. “This is obviously out of our control,” said director of policy Conor Faughnan. “But it affects us more than it affects many other countries. We are in the euro but we are also very high per capita oil users in Ireland. Our freight and almost all of our economy is highly dependent on fuel and fuel prices.”
This is the context in which the AA is again calling on Government to address the issue of super-high fuel taxes. “Ratcheting up taxes on fuels, which has been government policy since October 2008, would be a bad idea for most countries but even more so for us given our dependency,” said Faughnan. “The AA makes its case thinking primarily about the hardship imposed on the consumer and on family budgets. That is extremely serious – we get calls and emails daily from people in near despair because of it. But it is also doing considerable damage to the economy. These are very serious questions that urgently need to be addressed and the Government needs to listen.” Responding to calls from its members the AA has secured preferential prices from Topaz via the new AA fuel card. This gives the motorist a two cent per litre reduction on the posted price in any Topaz garage, saving the average driver €36 annually and saving the high-mileage driver much more.