The National Off-Licence Association has called for a reduction of 20% in alcohol excise in the 2010 budget. In a submission from NOffLA chairman, Jim McCabe, the case was made in a bid to “support economic recovery, restore economic confidence and sustain employment in the drinks industry and to reduce cross border tax revenue loss.” The submission additionally calls for the ending of the practice of charging VAT on the excise component of the price of alcohol, which is effectively a tax on a tax.
The submission also addresses the issue of cross-border trading, pointing to the “substantial difference between alcohol prices in Northern Ireland and the Republic.” Whilst admitting that much of this is due to differing business costs and the weakness of sterling, NOffLA reminded the Minister that official sources have shown that “tax accounts for 74% of the price difference on a bottle of whiskey and 67% of the price difference on a bottle of vodka.” Research has also shown that the purchase of alcohol is a major motivation for those travelling north on shopping trips.
Jim McCabe used the opportunity of the pre-budget submission to point to the increasing practice of the large supermarkets in the Republic “irresponsibly promoting alcohol sales at uneconomically low prices as a cynical driver of footfall in their stores.” The supermarket groups have done this under the guise of attempting to counteract the current trend in cross-border shopping, but the NOffLA chairman describes it as “an ill-conceived short term measure which has serious consequences in the context of the social and moral responsibility required in selling alcohol.”
The submission also includes other proposals in common with many retail groups across the country, including a proposal for a reduction in charges by state bodies, rent relief, a review of the minimum wage and PRSI relief on training for the responsible sale of alcohol.
The Minister for Finance has invited proposals which will address some of the challenges faced by many Irish businesses in the coming year. The National Off-Licence Association has made a cogent, logical and well-founded argument for its proposals, all of which would have a positive medium to long term impact on the independent off-trade in Ireland, and bring social benefits for the wider community. The association acknowledges the very difficult economic situation in which the country finds itself, but suggests a longer-term strategic approach is required rather than a quick fix to shore up the shortfall in exchequer revenues.
Dates for your diary
9 Budget 2010
25 Christmas Day
26 St Stephen’s Day
26-29 Leopardstown Racing Festival
11 Off-Licence of the Year Awards
If you have any queries regarding NOffLA membership or services, please contact our administrator, Reggie Walsh, at Block D, Unit 6, Nutgrove Office Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14. Phone 01 296 2326, fax 01 296 2451 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.noffla.ie.