Reading several newspapers over the weekend, it was worth noting that that despite the big fall in fuel prices, the benefits one might expect from such a drop are nor being sufficiently passed onto consumers.
Forget not that public transport prices rose at the beginning of the year on both buses and trains yet one of their main costs, fuel, is falling substantially and that must surely be helping the cost base.
Higher wages at Bus Éireann and Irish Rail are partly to explain for the price rise, but surely there should be the option of a price reduction, with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe pointing out the need to make these enterprises more viable.
Airline prices to longer distance destinations could also fall, but some airlines have bought their fuel under forward pricing and, in hindsight may have paid too much in hindsight.
Householders have benefitted from cheaper heating fuel oil prices in the past year, but other energy costs have not fallen by very much. In comparison, electricity and gas prices have not fallen very much, which is something we speculate upon in our special on wind energy and electricity prices on News 26 and 27.
Given that our electricity bill are, on average, 30 per cent higher than our British neighbours, one wonders why this is being tolerated and what, if anything, the Energy Regulator might do about this.
Surely householders could get cheaper electricity prices, but when you examine your bill, and see the levies and subsidies imposed on customers, then perhaps one can see what some are concerned that no energy provider wishing to enter our market is willing to do so subsidy free.
In this general election year, it seems that politicians have overlooked this way of putting more money in consumer pockets. They ought to be calling on energy companies to reduce their prices given how oil has dropped from a 2014 high of $100 per barrel, to $30 last week.
Delivery costs generally also fall with lower fuel prices and this should be feeding through this year.
The public should demand that lower prices be passed on, but as economist Colm McCarthy pointed out last week, the energy price debate held before the last UK general election has not materialised here.
Grocery prices have fallen due to competition and the fact that people have become much more price conscious.
Perhaps it’s time for the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to examine these matters and issue recommendations to see if they can ensure a better deal for consumers. While world markets worried last week about lower oil and commodity prices, there are consumer benefits, and we’re hope that the semi state companies involved in energy and transport will pass on the benefits and not keep all such benefits for themselves.
While the status quo may be helping the Government to balance the books, it isn’t right – and consumers deserve better.