Alcohol Action Ireland, the national charity for alcohol-related issues, today branded the Government’s decision to keep alcohol excise duty at the same slashed levels as the previous Government’s budget as “incomprehensible” and said the €178 million generated by an excise duty restoration could have covered the combined cuts to lone parent families, fuel allowance, disability services and increased student fees.
Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “Two years ago, the previous Government cut excise duty on alcohol and that resulted in the loss of millions in badly-needed tax revenue for the Exchequer. A restoration of excise duty levels could have earned the Government €178 million. That €178 million would have covered the €51 million cut to fuel allowance, the €20.7million to lone parents, the €50 million cuts to disability services and the €18.5 million increase for student fees with another €39 million left over to be spent on essential services.
“Alcohol is a luxury good but it remains at the same slashed level despite the CSO telling us that alcohol prices continue to drop while other prices go up.”
Ms Ryan pointed out that the Exchequer would also gain from the indirect benefits associated with the excise duty restoration:
“Consumption figures are inextricably linked with pricing and when you have high levels of consumption you have high levels of alcohol-related harm. We are current paying an estimated €3.7 billion* a year in alcohol-related harm, almost the equivalent amount we have to pay back to international debtors.
“Alcohol-related harm costs the Health Service an estimated €1.2 billion a year. Alcohol-related public order and crime costs the state a further estimated €1.2 billion* while the cost to each individual income tax payer is reckoned to be around €3,318.”
“A 30% reduction in alcohol-related harm would result in a cost saving to the Exchequer of €1 billion in addition to the increased revenue from excise duty.”
Ms Ryan pointed out that alcohol in the off-trade sector, in particular, is very cheap with a woman being able to reach her low-risk weekly drinking limit for €6.30 and a man for under €10. Around half of all alcohol sold in Ireland is sold in off-trade premises, indicating a massive shift towards the purchase of cheaper alcohol. Irish people currently drink an average of 11.9 litres of pure alcohol a year, which amounts to 125 bottles of wine or 45 bottles of vodka.
Notes to the Editor:
View Alcohol Action Ireland’s full Pre-Budget Submission Alcohol in Ireland – Finding the Right Measure at www.alcoholireland.ie
* Figures according to HSE commissioned report
For further information or comment contact:
Alcohol Action Ireland: (01) 878 0610 or 087 2195723