Sinn Féin spokesperson on Environment and Climate Action, Darren O’Rourke TD, has criticised the government for repeated delays in implementing the long-awaited tax on the obscene profits of energy companies.
The Meath East TD was responding to proposals, brought by Minister Eamon Ryan to cabinet this morning, to split the legislation in two, separating the temporary solidarity contribution from the cap on market revenues and thus further prolonging the introduction of the latter.
Teachta O’Rourke said:
“This is not good enough. The government has dragged their feet at every stage. They seem absolutely determined to continue to let energy companies off the hook.
“This legislation was announced all the way back in November. It is now mid June. Despite already going through pre-legislative scrutiny with a draft bill, we’re back to the drawing board.
“While the temporary solidarity contribution is apparently ready to go ahead, the cap on market revenues is not yet ready.
“According to Minister Ryan, the split is required due to a ‘technical issue’ with the legislation. I will remind him that many other EU countries have already had these measures in place for months now, some for nearly a year. It makes you wonder just how committed they really are to this, if at all.
“Let’s not forget that the government only moved on the introduction of a windfall tax when the EU did so as a whole, having previously opposed and obstructed it at every stage.
“And when it comes to the measures they have proposed, it is shocking but not surprising just how weak they are.
“We must remember that wholesale gas prices were at their highest ever between April and August last year. At that time, renewable energy companies were getting paid the price of gas for their wind and solar energy. This is when the profits were at their highest, far outstripping any previously recorded levels.
“Due to the government’s failure to tackle these profits in the original proposed measures, the estimated proceeds were revised down from €340m-€1.8bn to €280m-€600m. This a revision downward by a factor of almost ten. That is outrageous.
“Other EU member states have recognised the weakness of the EU regulation and moved to go beyond it to tackle energy company profits prior to December 2022. France and Belgium, for example, will do this by way of new tax measures.
“Sinn Féin is calling on the government to follow suit and strengthen the measures via the introduction of a windfall tax to redress some of the gross inequities that currently plague our energy sector.
“There is a surging cost of living crisis. Energy bills remain sky-high despite repeated falls in wholesale prices. Energy poverty already stands at staggering levels and Winter 2024 is not far away.
“The government needs to get their act together and start prioritising the needs of ordinary workers and families rather than continuing to dither and delay, effectively protecting the interests and profits of energy companies.”