herald

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Excise freeze making drink more affordable, group warns

Budget didn't hike duty
Budget didn't hike duty

The Government's failure to increase excise duty in the Budget means the price of alcohol will fall and be increasingly affordable due to the relatively low inflation rate, it was claimed yesterday.

Alcohol Action Ireland said this is the seventh year in a row that excise duty has remained untouched in the Budget.

Eunan McKinney, director of advocacy said that "in our Pre-Budget 2020 submission, Alcohol Action Ireland urged not to reduce excise duties and to retain existing excise duties on alcohol products.

"We are glad that Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has resisted the intensive lobbying of the alcohol industry, who had campaigned to have alcohol made even more affordable, despite the underlying data on our national alcohol consumption showing sustained rises."

"Equally, we had urged the minister to consider the introduction of a cost-of-living index to excise rates from 2021.

"We regret that this opportunity has not been taken and that as result the affordability of alcohol will continue to grow.

Buoyant

"In addition, we had advised the minister to begin the process of tapering the tax relief afforded to micro-breweries both in terms of the qualifying hectolitre limits and the percentage reduction of alcohol product tax. By extending this relief - €5.8m in 2018 - to further benefit an already buoyant alcohol industry is regrettable, especially when public funds are so limited in alcohol treatment services," he added.

"The retention of the existing duties, coupled with the introduction of minimum unit price on all alcohol products, as enacted in the Public Health (Alcohol) Act but not yet commenced, can curb the availability of cheap, strong alcohol and stimulate a downward trend in alcohol consumption," he said.

Ireland's alcohol consumption rate stands at 80pc above the global average.

Alcohol Action Ireland and Mental Health Ireland have established a working partnership to develop policy that will target the damaging impact of alcohol on our mental health.

At least 200,000 children in Ireland are living in families where there is alcohol misuse.

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