Drink prices 70% above EU average

IRISH consumers are paying 70% above the EU average for alcohol and tobacco, largely due to higher Government taxes, according to a new report.

About 60% of the price an Irish person pays for a bottle of spirits is tax; for a bottle of wine it is 30%; and for a pint of beer it is approximately 27%. Based on EU taxation figures from Eurostat, the vintners are calling for more lenient drink taxation, suggesting that the Government’s new 9% VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sectors should also apply to the drinks sector.

Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) chairman Kieran Tobin said: “With the domestic on-trade suffering double- digit sales volume and value declines and 7,000 job losses in 2010, we should be seeking to support this important employment-intensive sector and to encourage people to shop and socialise locally. For spirits and wine Ireland has the third highest tax levels in Europe and for beer we have the fourth highest levels of the 27 EU countries. On a composite alcohol excise level, Ireland is the fourth highest after Sweden, Finland and Britain. However, the level of Irish alcohol taxation is over double that of the fifth-ranked country, Denmark, and substantially higher than all other European economies.”

DIGI’s call for pro-jobs tax measures is also based on a report by Anthony Foley of Dublin City University Business School entitled “International Comparisons of Irish Alcohol Taxation within the EU 2011”. Sponsored by DIGI, this report confirmed Ireland’s place among Europe’s four costliest countries, alongside Sweden, Finland and Britain.

Kieran Tobin said these high taxes were endangering jobs in pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and drinks manufacturers.

“These high taxes contributed to the major upsurge in cross-border shopping that led to the Government reducing excise by 20% in an effort to repatriate revenue lost to the British exchequer.”

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