Describing the ESRI’s findings as “a bleak picture of Ireland post a hard Brexit”, she added that, “This is yet another reminder that action is needed now. We must get into decision-making mode on policy that addresses the reality of Brexit. While our diplomatic response is advanced, it’s now time for action on our economic response. Specifically, we need our government to produce a Brexit Budget and pull together a coordinated Brexit strategy that protects jobs, encourages economic activity and mitigates the risk of a hard Brexit that could hinder free trade.
“Budget 2018 must have clear policies which respond to the effects of Brexit and use taxation policy measures to stimulate economic activity, ensuring Ireland remains competitive and creates and maintains jobs.
“The hospitality sector is a network of pubs, hotels, restaurants, off-licences, distilleries and breweries supporting many other industries, with a presence in every part of the country. A decline in British tourism will be hugely detrimental to rural Ireland, where the hospitality sector is often the primary – and sometimes only – employer.
“Among the most at-risk jobs in the country are those in the hospitality sector,” she continued, “Ireland depends disproportionately on British tourism, yet already the number of UK visitors was down 8% in the first four months of 2017; Sterling, too, has dropped 15% against the €uro since the referendum. Ireland is becoming a more expensive destination for our biggest market which risks us becoming less attractive. These trends are likely to continue.
“In the next few weeks, DIGI will be bringing forward proposals which include reducing the high levels of excise tax rates in Ireland – second highest in the EU behind Finland – to protect our competitiveness, protect jobs across the country in the hospitality and drinks sector and encourage consumer spending,” she stated.
ABFI will be seeking a 15% reduction in excise duties at a cost of some €223 million (including the VAT charged on excise) according to a recent report in the Irish Times.
“If we could get more cash back into the economy by cutting personal tax, but also with excise and VAT, you’d see consumption would outweigh the reduction and you’d see a net bounce to the exchequer,” she said in an interview with the Irish Times, “By lowering taxation, you can end up with a higher amount to spend, which is the aim.”
She also pointed out that excise is a volume tax which accounts for about 54 cent of the total price of a pint of beer. The drinks industry argues that since 2011, tax increases have added 28 cents to the price of a pint.