ISME, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, has reacted with fury to the decision by the Commission for Energy Regulator to approve an increase in gas of 20 per cent, following hot on the heels of the recent 17.5 per cent hike in electricity prices.
According to ISME Chief Executive Mark Fielding: “This is another body blow to small businesses, many of whom are already on the canvas after recent electricity price increases and a dramatic erosion of competitiveness over the last number of years. This latest hike means that gas prices for business will have gone up by a staggering 155 per cent since 2002, one of the highest increases in Europe. Gas prices have increased by six times the rate of inflation (27 per cent ) since the Regulator came into office.
“What is particularly galling is that this latest increase has specifically been targeted at households and SMEs, the most vulnerable sectors. The energy cost increases faced by small business in the last number of years are unjustifiable and have reached a stage where many companies have had enough. There is no doubt that this decision ignores the competitive position of small Irish businesses and will contribute towards company closures and job losses.
“Since the introduction of the Regulator’s office in 2001 the cost of gas and electricity has increased way beyond what even the most pessimistic could predict. The latest increases in both gas and electricity will sound the death knell for many businesses throughout the country because they cannot cope with the rising costs. This situation is unacceptable, unwarranted and unsustainable,” said Mr Fielding.
In conclusion, Mr Fielding called on the Government to address the cost of electricity and gas by immediately implementing a national energy policy to incentivise and promote alternative sources of energy. This would help to alleviate the incessant price rises granted to the ESB and An Bord Gais, he added.