Wednesday, 6 December 2012 was a red letter day for Ireland as Minister of Finance Michael Noonan announced the first ever essential user fuel rebate for licensed hauliers. The rebate, which comes into effect on 1 July, 2013, will be available to all ‘tax compliant’ hauliers driving vehicles over 7.5 tonnes, with the exception of own-account operators.”I am pleased to announce an additional initiative that will support small businesses in all sectors of the economy,” Noonan said. “Virtually all businesses in Ireland rely on cost effective transport for their inputs and their outputs. This transport is provided by hauliers, the majority of whom are small businesses. In order to assist the competitiveness of this key industry, I am introducing a rebate on diesel with effect from the 1st of July 2013.Although the amount of rebate has not yet been confirmed, civil servants have indicated it is likely to be around 7.5 euro cents per litre.”The administration of the rebate has yet to be worked out,” points out Seamus McGowan, TPN’s MD. “In some countries which already offer a rebate, such as Belgium and Spain, it is paid monthly or three-monthly, in arrears. Sometimes the rebate is paid annually.” However it is paid, the rebate marks the government’s recognition of the plight of the Irish haulage industry. “This is an unprecedented decision made in one of the worst economic crises Ireland has seen in modern times,” Seamus adds. “And even more amazingly, it is restricted to haulage – not to buses or farmers or any other group. It is all down to the strong and continued lobbying by the Irish Road Haulage Association and particularly its president, Eoin Gavin, head of TPN member depot Eoin Gavin Transport.