Fatal flaw in minimum alcohol pricing

 

Sir, – The Irish Times cites a spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland calling on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly “to introduce minimum pricing of alcohol products” (“Alcohol selling for ‘pocket money prices’, says lobby group”, News, April 20th).

The fatal flaw in minimum pricing, as proposed in the Republic, is that the extra revenues go to the alcohol sector. This bonanza for the alcohol sector was estimated by by the Oireachtas Library and Research service in 2015 to be worth €78.3 million a year.

Those lobbying for minimum pricing would thus enrich the sector they claim to oppose. Parties with credentials in the area of demerit goods know this well. The Green Party has not proposed transferring environmental taxes to the fossil-fuel sector. Fianna Fáil, with its strong record in the area, has not proposed allocating tobacco tax revenues to cigarette companies. These revenues go to the national exchequer and are available to correct the consumption of demerit goods.

Minimum alcohol pricing was sensibly rejected in England in March 2020. If we are to address the alcohol aspect of demerit goods in Ireland all the price rises should go to the exchequer which is some €30 billion short.

Enhancing the profits of the alcohol sector is a mistake which the anti-alcohol movement has been making for over five years and is now seeking to export to Northern Ireland.

The alcohol industries must be laughing all the way to their banks. – Yours, etc,

SEAN BARRETT,

(Emeritus Fellow,

Economics Department,

Trinity College Dublin),

Dublin 2.