Excise hikes on alcohol ‘punitive and short-sighted’

Alcohol industry representatives have described as “punitive” and “short-sighted” increases in beer, wine and spirits in Budget 2014.

They said the 10c rise in excise duty for a pint of beer and cider and the standard measure of spirts, and a 50c increase for a standard bottle of wine would drive consumers across the border.

But Alcohol Action Ireland welcomed the rises and said, along with similar increases last year, it would help contribute to a fall in alcohol consumption.

Last year, beer, cider and spirits were hit with a 10c rise, while an extra €1 was put on 75cl bottles of wine.

The Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, representing suppliers and manufacturers, said it was “bad for jobs and bad for growth”.

ABFI director Kathryn D’Arcy said: “The decision to increase indirect taxes through huge excise increases is short-sighted and will damage employment.

“The minister stated the importance of the agri-food industry to our domestic recovery and then imposed a series of punitive excise increases on a vital aspect of this industry.”

She said prior to the budget, a basket of alcohol products was more than 30% cheaper in the North and we would see “a resumption in cross-border shopping”.

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, representing distributors, retailers and manufacturers, said the hikes were “short sighted” and would damage jobs.

“The penal excise increases, on top of those introduced last year, will increase the burden on pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, and independent off-licences and will put more jobs, businesses and livelihoods at risk,” said chairman Peter O’Brien. “This directly contradicts the minister’s stated aim to support job creation and small business.”

He said 8,000 jobs had been lost in the industry in the last five years.

Meanwhile, an umbrella group for local drug projects slammed a 7% cut in the Department of Health’s Drug Initiative.

This fund, which goes to drug projects, was cut by €2m to €27.95m next year.

“Everyone acknowledges, including the government and the minister, that the problem is getting more complex and more difficult to deal with, but at the same time, there has been a cut of up to 40% since 2008 in the Drug Initiative,” said Anna Quigley of Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign.

Ms Quigley said that they were launching an initiative in the coming weeks to highlight that “local communities can not take the cuts anymore”.


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