Excise duty not the “Old Reliable”

As Budget time comes round and people ponder whether the Minister for Finance will tax the “Old Reliables” such as beer, wine and spirits, Senator Catherine Noone has challenged this traditional view, arguing that “beer is, in fact, not a Budget ‘Old Reliable’ when it comes to increasing excise – with only three increases between 1990 and 2015 and one decrease”.

The Fine Gael senator has backed research undertaken by Alcohol Action Ireland which highlights this.

“I fully back the call from Alcohol Action Ireland to ensure that excise duty on alcohol is set at a level which reflects the impact and cost that alcohol has on our society” she stated recently, “whether it’s socially, economically or in our healthcare system.

“This great myth has taken root that somehow excise duty is an ‘Old Reliable’ when it comes to the Budget – and I really think this needs to be tackled.

“Between 1990 and 2015 the excise on beer was only increased three times while actually being decreased once in the same period. Similarly, the excise on wine was only increased four times in that 25-year period while also being decreased once. The excise duty on beer being increased in one out of every eight budgets hardly makes it an ‘Old Reliable’ as the alcohol spin merchants try and make us believe,” she stated.

“I believe that Budget 2016 needs to go some way to tackling this issue as we have one of the highest levels of both alcohol consumption and binge-drinking in the world. This costs us a huge amount between healthcare costs, crime costs and lost productivity in our workforce.

“This needs to be tackled with a raise in the excise duty but, first, the myth that this is a regular budgetary mechanism also has to be tackled. There are a great many myths perpetuated by the alcohol industry and I believe we need to make sure that the public are aware of the facts.”

However Bart Storan, Campaign Manager for Support Your Local, rejected her comments.

“Ireland has the second-highest excise on alcohol in the EU,” he told Drinks Industry Ireland, “We are calling for excise tax on alcohol to be cut as these taxes are damaging our competitiveness and costing jobs. Beer excise in this country is the third-highest in the EU. 30% of the price of a pint is tax. Ireland’s beer excise is 11.4 times that of Germany (where they have similar consumption rates to us).

“Research from the UK has found that 26,000 jobs have been created since 2013 due to a cut in beer excise. This high level of alcohol excise has a direct impact on alcohol prices in Ireland. Applying the German beer excise to Ireland would reduce the price of a pub pint by 60 cent or 14% (including the VAT charged on the excise).

“Our message is simple, support your local, reverse excise and create jobs.”


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