If plans to introduce a 23 per cent VAT on health food supplements go ahead it will have "a detrimental effect on people's health" as the resultant price hikes will put such supplements beyond the reach of many consumers.
This is the view of Independent Galway West TD, Catherine Connolly, who has condemned as "draconian" a decision by the Revenue Commissioner to impose VAT on all health food supplements from March 1. She is calling for the decision to be reviewed.
The Government has justified the increase by saying the Revenue Commissioners is independent in the operation of its functions and also because of the difficulty of operating the concession on the ground. While fully accepting the independence of the Revenue Commissioners, Dep Connolly said ultimately Government makes the policy and enacts the legislation.
She said the view that "operational difficulties on the ground" could not be used to justify the 23 per cent VAT. "It is not a just or proportionate response to what the Revenue Commissioners say is non-compliance by some health businesses," she said. "Rather it is a blanket punishment of health businesses."
Dep Connolly said the 23 per cent VAT imposition would have "the most serious implications" for vulnerable people and for jobs in the sector. "It also beggars belief that the date for the VAT increase is 30 days before Brexit, at a time when the Government is at pains to mitigate the effects of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU," she said.
The TD also said it was "ironic" that this came at a time when the Department of Health and the Government are actively encouraging people to lead healthy lifestyles. "The Government is standing over this proposed increase of 23 per cent VAT on health food supplements," she said, "and at the same time leaving a 13.5 per cent VAT rate on fast foods."