FTAI prepares a practical Budget Submission for Government

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The Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI) has stated that the Coalition Government  must make allowances for the challenges faced by all transport operators battling the Coronavirus and preparing for the arrival of Brexit in January. Aidan Flynn, FTAI General Manager outlines the details. 

Budget 2021 was always going to be difficult particularly with the impending impact the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) will have on consumers and the threat to Irish competitiveness. Our competitiveness is not only reliant on innovation and a great educated workforce but on the ability to service a global market. Connectivity with markets that have dense populations such as central and eastern Europe and wider afield in Asia, China and the US are vital to the Irish economy.  This year’s Budget must support recovery in aviation ensuring our airports remain open. Support for ferry operators currently servicing connectivity between Ireland and Great Britain and Europe is essential in ensuring our imports as well as export sectors remain healthy. Private Passenger operators that have seen their business evaporate before their eyes must be supported to facilitate a speedy recovery as tourism and travel get back to normal as the pandemic retreats, which it will do.

SUMMARY OF FTA IRELAND PRE-BUDGET SUBMISSION  

Transport is a wide and complex topic, below we try to summarise the immediate actions we see that the Minister for Finance could take in Budget 2021 to ease costs to the sector with regard to the impact of COVID-19, Brexit and to reduce both Greenhouse Gas (CO2) and Air Quality (PM, NOx) emissions:

  • COVID19 Business Support

Grants not loans for hard hit coach and bus operators to help offset the impact of cancellations during 2020.

Support for coach and bus operators that have outstanding financing and loans on rolling stock.

VAT Write off for fuel purchases for coach and bus operators during the COVID pandemic

No Interest charges by revenue for late payments of VAT, PAYE etc.

Professional Training Providers – Provide support for training providers of mandatory training such as Driver CPC with subsidy through the ‘national training fund’ to compensate for the reduced numbers allowed in classroom and increased costs of provision of service.

  • MOTOR TAX Refund– For vehicles registered as ‘off road; parked up’ a pro rata rebate of their motor tax will assist recovery.
  • Commercial Vehicles Roadworthiness Test– Where operators have no business for their commercial vehicles, provide a voucher to facilitate roadworthiness testing (when test is due) during the period the business is impacted by COVID-19.
  • Brexit – Brexit Related Training. More support must be provided for the haulage sector to upskill and prepare for Brexit. Funded training through Skillnets for up to 80% of the cost of all Brexit related trainingis vital in ensuring the country is prepared for Brexit Reality.
  • Port Connectivity – Support the long-term viability of airports and ports, critical to the future competitiveness of Ireland.

Support ferry links between Ireland and Britain and continental Europe that have seen passenger numbers reduce.

Support Airports and Airlines through the implementation and adoption of the EU traffic light system plus pre departure testing as a means of trying to hold onto the connectivity that is currently there at the moment. 75% of airfreight comes into and out of Ireland in passenger airlines. This connectivity needs to be protected.

  • Skills –Apprenticeship ‘Training Tax Credit’; Introduce a new apprenticeship training tax to cover the duration of an apprenticeship programme. Employers would be more supportive of the new ‘earn as you learn’ programme if incentives like this were introduced. The apprenticeship programme is reliant on employers to recruit apprentices. The training tax credit would have the effect of making this route of recruitment more appealing.

National Training Fund –This fund should be used to pay for tuition fees for new ‘earn as you learn’ apprentices.

  • Recognise non-energy consuming, but capacity building investments in the Accelerated Capital Allowance scheme; for FTA members this would apply to:

Double length trailers which do not consume fuel but do reduce fuel use by reducing journeys (motorways only)

Aerodynamic and other kits which can be retrofitted to older vehicles already registered in Ireland – example table of measures overleaf.

  • Specify Euro 6 / CNG / LNG minimum for all future Government grants, funding programmes; reduce operator uncertainty and help accelerate investment.

Slow imports of used Euro 1-5 HCVs immediately.

  • Support the Logistics Apprenticeship scheme, ecoDriving training and Smart Transport Manager Trainingto help increase skills in the sector, promoting it as a career with as structured approach to transport management for operators to reduce fuel use and emissions. EcoDriving training for all experienced drivers
  • Order Government agencies with obligations in the sector to work collaboratively towards infrastructure projects and implementation e.g., to provide fast fill gas refuelling and electric vehicle charging, to work in parallelto accelerate roll-out of CNG and Fast Charging stations suitable for commercial vehicles.

Promote collaboration between local authorities, ESB and CRU to work in parallel to support GNI in accelerating the opening of public filling stations

Whilst no heavy electric vehicles yet exist in Ireland, locating fast chargers appropriately will allow HCVs charge in the future without additional cost.

  • Barrier free tolling – allow all HGVs to use barrier free tolling lanes.
  • Invest in alternative fuelling infrastructure for CNG/LNG/Electric – only 2 public refuelling sites for CNG at the moment – causeway project was to deliver 14 by end of 2020?
  • Provide a Tax Rebate (credit)for all commercial fleets that have evidence-based fuel management programmes in place i.e., they are able to demonstrate reduction in fuel burn. Programmes such as the annual audit TruckSafe at Silver & Gold level record kilometres driven and Litres of fuel used per vehicles feed the information into a programme audited by the SEAI.
  • Provide Tax breaks for adoption of CNG/LNG/ Electric alternative technologies.

Grants should be made available to subsidise the significant price differential between diesel and CNG/LNG Heavy Commercial Vehicles. The price difference is in the region of €40,000. Industry needs a business case to make the move to alternative technologies.

Rate of excise for Gas must be matched until a significant proportion of the national fleet (over 30%) have transitioned to alternative fuelled natural or biogas.

  • Recognise existing operator performance accreditation schemesin the diesel rebate scheme with additional rebate to offset the additional cost of carbon tax.
  • Allow the EEOS to recognise the final energy savings of transport operators switching from fossil to electric; currently there’s a complicated discussion around conversion factors, which halves the perceived benefit to the end user.
  • Incentivise sales of Euro 6 HCV’s with grants and/or accelerated capital allowances, to reduce tax losses on lower cost used imports, and to reduce operators running costs in the face of Brexit.
  • Slowing or stopping the importation of Euro 1-5 HDVs will help improve Ireland’s air quality over the next 5-10 years assuming these trucks last the 12-year European average. Euro 6 HDV’s also use less fuel, which helps reduce operating costs in the face of Brexit’s increased costs.