10th October 2018, Dublin
Retailers are angry at the Government’s decision to impose yet another excise increase of 50c on tobacco, bringing the total cost of a packet of cigarettes to 12 euro. The move comes despite the Tax Strategy Group clearly stating in July that an increase in excise on tobacco would not generate any additional revenue, given the resultant levels of smuggling and money lost to the Exchequer.
Retailers Against Smuggling (RAS) is in no doubt that these excise increases, which make Ireland the most expensive place in the EU to buy cigarettes, only serve to further incentivise smuggling and undermine Irish retailers.
RAS’s pre-budget submission had called for a moratorium on further excise increases until they could be proven not to lead to a surge in smuggling as a result of price differentials.
RAS spokesperson Benny Gilsenan: “Today’s decision is another slap in the face to retailers that have been compliant with every decision made by this Government, and who want more resources to be given to Revenue to protect businesses from illicit trade in tobacco, alcohol and solid fuel. Excise increases only widen the gap between legitimate shop-owners that are earning an honest living, and gangs peddling €5 cigarette packets in our communities. What’s more, this is little more than a stealth tax on our law-abiding customers, who choose to buy legitimate product rather than smuggled product from the street.”
RAS’ budget submission called for not only a halt on excise increases, but also for more resources for Revenue; the registration of all solid fuel retailers and parliamentary support for the Sale of Illicit Goods Bill which is designed to address smuggling. If the Government is truly committed to helping retailers, these suggestions from our industry must be taken seriously. Mr Gilsenan continued “Our budget submission was reasonable and designed to protect small retailers nationwide. The government has completely ignored us yet again and the ramifications will be obvious in the coming months.”