Tuesday, 15 July 2014
The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), which represents 92,000 employees in pubs, restaurants, hotels, independent off-licences and drinks suppliers across the country presented to the Joint Oireactas Committee of Finance today. The Group called for the reversal of excise on alcohol which has cost jobs, has made our tourism offering less competitive and has punished the hard pressed Irish consumer.
Speaking to the Committee today, Padraig Cribben, CEO of the VFI, who are members of DIGI said:
“Excise damages our rural pubs and independent off-licences. Since 2007 over 1,000 pubs throughout Ireland have been forced to close. The small pubs in rural communities cannot soak up excise increases across a wide product mix, like a supermarket can – they are forced to pass the increase on to consumers who often assume the publican is price gauging. 80% of the increase in the cost of a pint in the pub since 2011 has been directly caused by taxation.
“Excise damages our tourism offering. Ireland is the most expensive country in Europe to buy alcohol, which has been identified by tourists in Failte Ireland research to be one of their chief concerns about coming back to the country – second only to the weather.
“Excise drives consumers to the North. There has been rise in cross-border activity as a result of excise increases, causing pubs, independent off-licences and the exchequer to lose out. On average, there is a 35% price difference between the Republic and Northern Ireland across all categories of alcohol, with Revenue Commissioner Figures showing that a bottle of Irish whiskey is €5.50 cheaper in the North.
“Excise increases black market trade. The huge tax wedge on alcohol products is leading to a rise in black market trade, with seizures in counterfeit alcohol steadily rising.
“Excise does NOT tackle alcohol misuse. Excise is a blunt instrument that unfairly impacts on small local businesses and does not deliver on reducing harmful patterns, like binge drinking. It is a sledgehammer, not a scalpel. The Government is forcing pubs to charge more, which is driving consumers to buy cheap alcohol in supermarkets and drink at home. Alcohol costs are 78% higher in this country than the European average, so clearly pricing is not addressing the problem.”
“Let me make it very clear that the industry is committed to tackling misuse. Earlier this year, members of the drinks industry signed a pledge for the introduction of policy options to tackle misuse, including: addressing the widespread sale of alcohol at very low prices in a meaningful way, banning price-based advertising, which encourages an incorrect image of alcohol and the ways in which it should be enjoyed, and also introducing a statutory code on alcohol merchandising.”
Ruth O’Byrnes, 0860558331
Colin Taylor, 0867832502