Castlebar Chamber of Commerce President Oliver Kelleher has called for a further tax on off licence alcohol sales to help benefit the bar, restaurant and hotel trade. According to Mr Kelleher for every €10,000 spent in an off licence, one job is created but for the same spend in a bar and restaurant four jobs are created.
According to Mr Kelleher, a 50c tax on wine, spirits, cans and bottles sold through off licences would not only generate many millions in extra revenue for the Government, but would also help address the issue of people drinking to excess at home.
In a letter to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny ahead of the budget in 2011 Mr Kelleher put his arguments forward and has reiterated the same points which are as relevant two years on. He said such a tax on off licence sales would “give a boost to the bars, restaurants and hotel trade,” and while some people might argue it would drive people into pubs he said the problem now “is that we have more unknown home drinking alcoholics in Ireland then we ever had and little can be done to help them”.
The Chamber president highlighted the “unknown loss of revenue” to the State due to a fall in alcohol sales through pubs and pointed to the fact that some publicans are being forced to buy their drink in their local supermarket at a price less than that which wholesalers can sell it.
“As you and I have noticed over the past two years the bar, restaurant and hotel trade have been decimated,” Mr Kelleher outlined, “because of the huge amount of people who now drink at home, together with the drink driving laws.”
He continued: “The sales in off licences/takeouts have rocketed. Under-cost selling of drink is no longer illegal so all the major supermarkets are selling drink at below cost to attract customers.”
Mr Kelleher made the frank observation that for €10 a day “me or you could become a fully fledged alcoholic at home”.