Representing the interests of 4,500 rural publicans, he stated, “Both of these measures should help save jobs in Ireland and could provide a boost to the tourism industry.
“When you take into account that our excise levels are top of the EU table for wine and second only to the UK and Sweden on beer and spirits respectively, an increase in excise on alcohol would have been a most unwelcome development.
“The introduction of the air travel tax was to raise funds” he continued, “but it may have actually stifled tourist numbers, with huge losses recorded in Shannon in particular. The reduction of the air travel tax from €10 to €3 is a victory for common sense and we see this as a step in the right direction.
“The VFI believe that measures announced today, relevant to the drinks and tourism industry, may provide a welcome fillip for the local consumer, for tourists and it may go some way to preserving jobs in the hospitality sector.
“The VFI look forward to sitting down with Government in 2011 as they review the excise duty payable for licences for on-trade and off-licence sales of alcohol products to ensure that the system is both transparent and fair.”
Just prior to the Budget the Federation had called for the Government to aid a drinks industry already on its knees by introducing a 20 per cent reduction in excise on alcohol, a ban on below-cost selling in supermarkets, the cessation of the practice of putting VAT on excise, a 20 per cent reduction in commercial rates and for employment incentives to be introduced for those in the hospitality sector. The VFI pointed out that 90 per cent of the 78,000 people employed in the drinks industry are employed in the pub sector.
The past 12 months has brought little joy to the drinks industry with the first seven months of the year showing a 14 per cent decrease in bar sales.
However 2009’s cut in excise was a welcome boost for the trade and certainly lessened the cross-border traffic while at the same time securing hundreds of on-trade jobs.
“Our members have not been idle this past year and have been cutting back and reducing overheads wherever possible but we feel that with the ongoing closure of pubs, that similar measures are required to prevent more closures and job losses,” stated VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben just prior to the Budget, “Recent evidence suggests that cross-border shopping is an issue once again for our members. What we are looking for is achievable and will lead to a reduction in prices for the consumer and will support over 69,000 people employed directly in the on-trade. These jobs need protection or we will see more pubs close and more jobs lost. The Government needs to be creative and brave in this Budget to bring back confidence.”