Northern Ireland in January is again on a slippery slope as the highest prices in the UK for unleaded petrol at 133.2 pence per litre and also the highest price for diesel at 140.6 pence per litre have been recorded.
As the recession continues to bite, this is not good news for local businesses and commuters.
South Down MLA Chris Hazzard has called on the British Government to relax the tax on petrol and diesel after the latest figures show fuel prices in the North as some of the highest in Europe.
Mr Hazzard said: “Fuel users in the North of Ireland are being penalised by high fuel duty imposed by the British Government and they must act to reduce it if the North is to be sustainable on a competitive basis.
“Most business have a transport cost as do most people and the high prices at the pumps are putting people under undue financial stress because the tax imposed by the British Government is so high compared to other nations.
“Whether it is a commuter, a taxi driver, delivery driver or a major haulage firm, everyone of them are feeling the pressure and with further price hikes on the horizon many will be forced to close causing higher unemployment.
“Fuel prices South of the border are lower and we need to be looking a harmonisation of fuel prices across the island at a more affordable level that will allow businesses here to compete on a more even basis.”
Down News has calculated that the cost of petrol per litre in the North is 133.2 pence and 1.37 in the South but diesel is as high as 140.6 pence in the North and just 133.0 pence in the South.
Commenting on a recent AA statement, the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has supported their call for the Chancellor to cancel the proposed September rise in duty.
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “The staggering rise in the average cost of petrol in the last month is a cause of major concern to the local retail sector and we urge the Chancellor to address this issue in his forthcoming Budget.
“Increasing petrol prices puts more pressure on hardworking families and therefore more strain on disposable income resulting in less spending in local shops. Additionally, increased fuel costs puts a further burden on our members who have their own transport essential for the running of their businesses”
“The retail sector ends up squeezed between reduced consumer spend and increased fuel bills making it harder for them to remain competitive”
“This issue has to be a priority for the Chancellor.”