Alcohol Action Ireland has urged the Government to increase excise duty to better reflect the “harm” drink causes the economy.
The rate of excise duty varies on the type of alcohol; for cider with an alcohol volume of 2.8% or less, €47.23 is paid to Revenue per hectolitre.
By contrast, sparkling wine with an alcohol volume greater than 5.5% excise duty is charged at a rate of €849.68 per hectolitre.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Sheila Gilheany said it has been far too long since excise duty was increased.
“It brings in about €1.2 billion but the harm that it actually costs the Irish economy is over €3.7 billion,” she said.
“So, over three times as much in costs in terms of hospital costs [and] having to pick up the pieces really from the harm that alcohol causes.
“We’re actually saying that it really needs to be increased; there’s been no increase in alcohol excise in a decade.
“So, the actual value of the duties is now 15% lower than it would have been back in 2014 and we’re calling on Minister Michael McGrath to actually raise the duties by 15%.
“It is a public health matter - but it’s also an economic matter.”
'Only so much you can pass on to the consumer'
Opposing any such hike, Vintners Federation of Ireland CEO Padraig Cribben said hospitality has endured a “perfect storm” during the pandemic and has been struggling ever since.
“Since then, our input costs in terms of drink and food, have gone up very considerably and not alone that but overheads in terms of energy, insurance, labour, they’ve increased,” he said.
“Of course, we’ve had the recent 4.5% increase in VAT.
“There is only so much you can pass on to the consumer.”
Mr Cribbens argued a cut in excise duty would “sustain jobs” and the Government has already put measures in place to tackle the harm drinking causes to society.
“There was a mechanism put in place in 2018 - the Public Health Alcohol Bill,” he said.
“That introduced minimum pricing and… there is a mechanism that can and should be used to ensure the affordability of alcohol to vulnerable people is reduced.”
Budget 2024 will be held on October 10th.
Main image: Men drinking beer while sitting at a bar counter in February 2017. Picture by: Dan Grytsku / Alamy Stock Photo