He was speaking in response to a Dail Question from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin who’d raised the issue of large off-licences in the context of the present licensing fee.
Minister Noonan stated, “The Deputy seems to be suggesting that a similar turnover basis for calculating the duty for on-licences should be applied to large off-licences.
“While I’m not unfavourably disposed to such a suggestion, I believe a number of issues need to be taken into consideration. Any change to the arrangements in place for large supermarkets would also have to be applied to smaller outlets such as the off-licence on the corner. The licence regime for pubs is based on the entire turnover of the business including snacks, meals, tobacco and entertainment.
“On the face of it, it would seem unreasonable to apply the same turnover definition to a supermarket whose core business is groceries and household goods but sells alcohol as an added service. It should also be noted that, under the current arrangements, 75% of pubs fall within the two lowest bands and pay €505 or less, as against the €1,500 currently payable by the off-trade.
Notwithstanding the above and in the context of the Report of the Steering Group on a National Substance Misuse Strategy, I have asked my officials to examine the proposal in the context of this year’s Finance Bill,” he concluded.
Under the existing arrangements, off-licences require a separate beer, wine and spirits licence totalling €1,500 per annum.
By way of contrast, a pub in the top turnover band (€1.27 million or more) pays a licence fee of €3,805 while one in the bottom band pays €250.