Publicans 'in the dark' over budget business supports – VFI

Publicans 'In The Dark' Over Budget Business Supports – Vfi
The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland expressed disappointment that excise duty on alcohol was not reduced. Photo: PA Images
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The lack of a reduction in excise duty for alcohol and uncertainty surrounding supports for small businesses are among the concerns raised by groups representing publicans and other members of the drinks industry following the unveiling of Budget 2024.

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) has urged the Government to immediately engage with representatives from the hospitality sector to clarify what supports will be made available to its members.


Referencing the €250 million temporary support package announced by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe to support businesses with cost-of-living pressures, the VFI said it is disappointed by the lack of information available on the measures.

It added that the support must be taken in the context of increase VAT rate, after the temporary VAT reduction to 9 per cent for the hospitality sector lapsed earlier this year, returning it to 13.5 per cent.

"It's extraordinary that details of a €250 million package for businesses are unavailable on budget day, with the result that our members remain completely in the dark," VFI chief executive Pat Crotty said.

"The Minister said in his budget statement that local businesses are the 'backbone' of the economy, but he needs to follow through with meaningful supports for our sector," he added, pointing to rising energy costs, food and drink cost inflation, a rise to the minimum wage and higher insurance premiums as some of the issues facing members.


Mr Crotty also expressed disappointment that the Government chose not to reduce excise duty on alcohol, noting that Ireland's rate is the second highest in Europe.

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His frustrations were echoed by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), whose chair Kathryn D'Arcy described the budget as a "missed opportunity".

"[DIGI] put forward a costed, stepped plan which would reduce excise rates over the next two years, serving to underpin a sector which is a major employer and contributor to the social fabric of every town and village," Ms D'Arcy said.

"Since 2015, almost 2,000 pubs have closed across Ireland, representing the loss of a small or family-run business and community spaces.

"We need to collectively refocus on how we approach excise rates, particularly given the competitive advantage European countries enjoy and what this means for the tourism and hospitality sector."

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