We are pleased that the Government has decided not to impose further increases in excise at a time when the pub trade continues to experience significant challenges.
Today’s decision is also welcome news for Irish consumers who as a result will not see their pockets further lightened. This is crucial at a time when we are seeing a tentative increase in consumer confidence.
We also feel this decision is recognition of the contribution of the Irish pub which accounts for over 50,000 jobs and contributes significantly to the exchequer.
Further, at a time when CSO figures indicate that the tourism industry is in recovery mode, it is a positive development that this Government is not making our country more expensive for tourists.
While we are pleased and relieved that another increase has been avoided, we would still view today’s decision as a missed opportunity. The fact remains that excise is a tax on employment, a tax on consumers and a tax on tourism. We still have levels of excise that are a multiple of what is experienced in most other European countries. The Government had a chance to reverse this position by reducing levels of excise but has decided not to take it.
Ultimately, our industry requires more Government support. Today’s developments are a small step in the right direction. This is step one. Step two must recognise that a reduction in excise levels is imperative and is implemented at the earliest opportunity.
For the moment though, we welcome this decision by Minister Noonan and the Government.