THE Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) is lobbying the government ahead of Budget 2020 to reduce the excise tax on alcohol, which it describes as ‘prohibitive and high.’ In a report on research it carried out to help it make its case, DIGI opines that its publican members are not getting enough credit for their contribution to the Irish tourism offering, citing their findings that 51% of Irish people bring international visitors to their local pub, 64% bring their guests to their local restaurant, whereas just 1% bring their guests to the local tourist attraction.
DIGI bemoans the 4.4% drop in visitors from the UK in May, due most likely to the uncertainty about Brexit. They are good spenders, but the poor exchange rate between sterling and the euro combined with the crazy prices being charged for drink in places such as Temple Bar in Dublin sees us returning to the ‘Rip-off Republic’ days of the Celtic Tiger era.
No doubt, pubs have a useful social function for people meeting friends and providing elderly people living in isolation with a place to socialise, but the price of drink in them is very expensive relative to what one pays in an off-licence.
While Ireland has the second-highest rate of excise duty on alcohol in the EU, the industry has nothing to lose by asking the government to reduce it. But, should they not also be talking to their suppliers to rebalance the split between the Exchequer, the breweries or distilleries and the publicans themselves?