‘Penal’ rate of excise must be addressed – VFI

The excise and VAT alone on a bottle of whiskey in Ireland is more than the total cost plus excise and VAT of a bottle in Spain.

In highlighting the ‘penal’ rate of excise on the Irish drinks industry, Vintners Federation of Ireland Chief Executive Padraig Cribben pointed out, “At a time when we are enticing more tourists, our country already has one of the highest levels of excise in the EU, for example the combined difference in excise and VAT on a bottle of Irish whiskey is €16.53 in Ireland compared to Spain. The last thing the consumer needs is more tax and I would encourage people to remember that excise is a tax on the public not the publican.”

He was speaking on the opening day of the 41st VFI conference in Westport. The main conference takes place this morning where discussion centres on the consistent failure of the Department of Health to enact the Health Codes as part of The Public Health Alcohol Bill.

Minister of State at the Department of Health, Alex White had promised that the Public Health Alcohol Bill, currently being drafted, will underpin Minimum Unit Pricing for retailing of alcohol products, regulation of marketing and advertising of alcohol and separation of alcohol from other products.

“The consistent failure of the Government to implement health codes deeply disappoints us,” commented the VFI Chief Executive, “There’s a good deal of talk and promises but little action to date. The Public Health Alcohol Bill has been continuously delayed and as we are heading to another Summer break the VFI urges the Government to urgently address the sale and promotion of cheap alcohol, introduce the ban on price-based advertising and bring in the statutory code of practice in respect of segregation.

“In other words, do what you said you would do Minister. There is absolute broad support for what you are talking about and there is no need to procrastinate any further.

“This is a massive social and health issue which cannot be ignored any longer. The government has promised to introduce such measures but has yet to put action to its words.

“Over the years, there has been visible evidence of consistent price reduction in the promotion and sale of cheap alcohol in the supermarket trade. For example in 2005 a slab of Guinness was promoted at €39.97 and marketed at selling at cost. Today that same product is selling at €24.

“If €39.97 was the cost in 2004, how can €24 not be classed as below costing selling today?”

However Alex White admitted recently that implementation of MUP will be significantly delayed as a result of the recent decision by the Scottish Court of Session to send an appeal against the introduction of MUP to the European Court of Justice.

“What was agreed by cabinet was the legislation would be prepared and it would provide for MUP,” the Junior Minister at the Department of Health stated, “but it would have regard to the outcome of the Scottish case.”

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