Heinken Ireland head calls for reversal of excise increase on alcohol
Maggie Timoney says higher prices will damage exports, tourism and pub trade
Maggie Timoney, the managing director of Heineken Ireland, said: ‘We need to start rebuilding the economy and help publicans.’ Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
The head of Heineken Ireland has called on the Government to reverse the 18 per cent increase in excise on beer, saying it will be damaging for publicans, exports, tourism and jobs.
Maggie Timoney criticised the Government’s decision to levy a second consecutive year of excise increases on alcohol, saying the average price of an alcoholic drink in Ireland is now among the most expensive in Europe.
While the lower VAT rate will have a positive impact on publicans, she said the excise increase on alcohol prices could lead to further pub closures and job losses.
Roughly 1,000 pubs have closed in the past five years, with per capita consumption down one-third since 2000, she said.
“The excise is so egregious we need to look for a reversal of that 18 per cent excise. We need to start rebuilding the economy and help publicans,” she said.
She said the excise duty has increased by nearly 40 per cent in the last two years, which would affect pubs, tourism and exports.
“We need to fuel the economy. The pub is the hub of the community. We need to help the publicans out, not add more taxes that is going to hurt the on- and off-trade.
“When people don’t have a lot of disposable income as a result of the recession, it is unacceptable to levy a big fat increase again,” Ms Timoney said.
A recent report by Tony Foley of Dublin City University Business School shows that while the drinks sector still makes a substantial contribution to the economy – more than €2 billion in VAT and excise receipts and more than €1 billion in annual exports – that contribution has dwindled since 2008.
Last week, Kathryn D’Arcy, the director of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, said that the excise increase was a “short-sighted” move that would damage employment in several industries.
“The effects of an 18 per cent increase in excise on beer will be felt by Irish farmers; the 15 per cent increase in excise on spirits will damage Ireland’s export sector; and the 15 per cent increase in excise on wine will damage our international competitiveness as a tourism location,” she said.