The emergency reduction to fuel excise will be extended well into next year, as part of the €8bn-plus budget day plans to ease the burden the rising cost of living is having on families.
Senior Government sources say it is a near certainty that the 20c per litre cut to petrol and 15c per litre to diesel will be extended in next month’s budget until the spring.
The cut of 2c per litre on green diesel is also likely to be extended as part of a suite of measures to be put in place this year to address the impact of inflation, which is running at more than 9%.
The reduction in excise has cut the cost of a 60l tank of petrol by €12, and diesel by €9.
The Government is due to announce increased spending measures and tax cuts, totalling €6.7bn for 2023 on September 27, but will also announce a package of once-off cost-of-living measures, which some experts have said could top €2bn.
While Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath are known to be committed to extending the excise cuts, Government sources have rejected calls to place a cap on fuel costs, as Ireland is a country that must buy the majority of its own fuel.
Sources have said Ireland is not in the situation where we have access to the majority of our fuel needs from our own sources.
That means the relationship that we have with external supply is very important, they said.
Extending the cut until the end of March 2023 has been estimated to cost between €500m and €600m.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Helen McEntee is likely to secure funding for an additional 500 to 700 gardaí to help bring the numbers of the force above 15,000.
Last year’s budget allocated around €2bn towards policing, allowing for recruitment of up to an additional 800 gardaí and 400 garda staff in 2022.
More than 100 new gardaí graduated from the training college at Templemore, Co Tipperary, recently, with another batch of recruits set to complete their training in the coming weeks.
Additional recruitment competitions are expected late this year or early next year.
It is understood that Ms McEntee is keen to see garda numbers go beyond 15,000 to meet demographic demands, as well as a focus on putting gardaí on the streets of towns and cities.
There are also expected to be investments in garda staff and digital skills, with cybercrime units particularly identified.
While the Government has committed to increasing the defence budget from €1.1bn to €1.5bn by 2028, a source said that this year’s budget was unlikely to see a major beginning of that increase.
It is understood that there are “structural issues” around the recruitment of members of the forces which need to be addressed before any major recruitment can be undertaken.
A competition was recently opened to find both a head of transformation and head of strategic HR for the Defence Forces as part of the overhaul of the Defence Forces human resources strategy.
It is expected that there will be an increase in investment from next year, ramping up to the €1.5bn in today’s prices envisaged by 2028.
In health, funding to roll out nine extra respite facilities for people with disabilities as well as a number of further specialist respite services will be provided.
Disabilities Minister Anne Rabbitte is pushing to get extra money to increase the opening hours of existing services and to provide at least one new respite service in each community health organisation.
However, a delay in the transfer of Disabilities from the Department of Health to the Department of Children has led to what has been described as a last minute scramble as officials in the Department of Health had not been expected to have to negotiate this area as part of this year’s budget.