Belfast Telegraph

Call for 'lid levy' at off-licences

Pub owners are urging the Government to slap a 15% tax on drinks sold at off-licences.

They claim a "lid levy" on take-home alcohol sales would raise almost a quarter of a billion euro for the state and help safeguard 50,000 jobs in the pub trade.

Both the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) and the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) are fighting any moves to increase excise and VAT on beer, wine and spirits.

Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said any increase in alcohol excise would be disastrous for publicans.

"The employment-intensive on-trade sector is already suffering major declines, pub closures and job losses on an unprecedented scale," he said.

"What we have outlined today is a 15% 'lid levy' which is a simple revenue-generating proposal that complies with competition law and EU regulations on VAT and excise and will conservatively generate in excess of 240 million euro."

The VFI and the LVA represent around 6,000 publicans.

The new tax would also help the Government target the availability of cheap alcohol in supermarkets, they claim.

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the VFI, said a hike in alcohol excise in next week's Budget would be "a crude and easy option" which would only discourage people from going out to pubs.

"We know the Government needs to generate income so we are giving them a solution that raises the necessary revenue but protects jobs and businesses at the same time," he added.

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