Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment and Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has criticised government arrogance concerning their plan to address windfall gains in the energy sector.
Speaking following the Committee Stage debate in the Dáil today, the Meath East TD said:
“Today we debated the Energy (Windfall Gains in the Energy Sector) Bill, and the government yet again opted to implement a weak – and in Sinn Féin’s view – inadequate Windfall Tax.
“By failing to adopt Sinn Féin’s amendments, they have missed a vital opportunity to strengthen this Bill, and as a result the people of Ireland have lost out again.
“Time and time again, this government has shown that it is more interested in protecting the profits of energy companies over and above the needs of ordinary workers and families.
“Let’s not forget that these profits were made on the back of a pandemic, the outbreak of a war in Europe and a raging cost of living crisis.
“The truth is that people have been struggling to cope with sky-high energy bills, some of the highest in Europe, and all the while energy companies are making staggering, eye-watering profits. The temporary solidarity contribution only kicks in at levels above 20% of average profits!
“First, we introduced an amendment to ensure that the revenues raised urgently reduce the cost of electricity for households. We sought to guarantee that the people felt a difference in their pockets straight away rather than at the snail’s pace that this government seems to be operating at. After all, eighteen other EU countries have already introduced the measure, and furthermore their energy prices are falling while Ireland’s remain stubbornly high.
“Second, we tabled amendments so that the legislation goes further, increasing the percentage of profits that can be considered taxable, thus providing more relief that households so desperately need. Shockingly but unsurprisingly, these were ruled out of order, meaning that we were denied a debate on the issue.
“Third, we proposed amendments to make the legislation more robust to avoidance. This would have prevented energy companies from writing off capital expenditure and losses in order to reduce the profits that can be considered taxable. However, these were again ruled out of order. Energy companies are protected while ordinary workers and families suffer.
“Finally, Sinn Féin would have provided for enhanced enforcement measures, directing energy companies to pay up earlier and furthermore face serious penalties the longer it takes them to file a return.
“Government arrogance prevented them from seeing just how sensible and needed these amendments were. Now what we’re left with is a mere shadow of what a windfall tax has the potential to be.”