With the Government’s decision not to alter excise duty on alcohol in Budget 2017, key industry groups have voiced their reactions to the change - or lack of.
The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) has said the Government’s decision not to change excise duty on alcohol in Budget 2017 is a reflection of the current economic reality, while still calling for a cut in future.
Donall O’Keefe, Secretary of the DIGI and CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association said: “The drinks industry is operating in an extremely difficult and uncertain economic climate, so the Government’s decision today not to not cut excise on alcohol is a missed opportunity for the industry as we approach the Christmas trading season and the increased threat of cross border shopping.
Mr O'Keeffe also stated that Ireland is 20% more expensive due to sterling devaluation, and that this increases pressure on the industry: “The Drinks Industry firmly believes that there is real merit in cutting excise duty and we will continue to campaign for a decrease in this punitive tax, which would support economic growth and job creation in every community in Ireland.”
The National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) also expressed disappointment at the lack of a reduction on excise, but recognised that it could have been worse. Evelyn Jones, Government Affairs Director NOffLA stated, “NOffLA acknowledges the Government’s decision to retain the current level of excise on alcohol. Even with the growth in Ireland’s economy, independent SMEs such as off-licences are still trading in a difficult economic environment, and today’s announcement provides a level of stability for business owners all over the country.”
Ms Jones did voice concerns however: “The extreme difference between our excise and our European partners is unsustainable and needs to be addressed by the Government going forward.” NOffLA hopes that excise will be reduced in future, thus creating jobs around the country.
The Alcohol and Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI) also commented on the budget, saying that the Government's decision not to reduce excise on alcohol was ‘a missed opportunity for one Ireland’s largest indigenous sectors’.
Ross Mac Mathuna, Director of ABFI said: “The drinks industry has come under increasing pressure this year following the Brexit vote and subsequent plunge in the value of sterling. The industry employs 92,000 people across the country from the grain to the glass and contributes €2 billion to the Irish economy. However, we continue to pay the highest price for alcohol in the EU – on a standard €9 bottle we pay a staggering €3.19 in taxes, meaning it is 12% more expensive than the equivalent in the UK. This is putting jobs at risk and we are increasingly vulnerable to cross border trading.”
Mr Mac Mathuna also voiced a hope that excise on alcohol would be reduced in future, and pledged to continue engaging with policymakers to that end.
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