Retailers have expressed deep concern over the government’s plans to introduce minimum unit price (MUP) rules for alcohol before similar measures are put in place in Northern Ireland.
Retail Ireland has warned that such a move, without alignment with the North, would likely lead to an increase in cross-border shopping, with people traveling to Northern Ireland to seek lower prices.
The result, according to the organization, will be a significant loss in sales of not only alcohol but other products to businesses in the Republic.
“If consumers come to Northern Ireland to shop, they will inevitably be spending money at a wide range of retail and hospitality outlets, not just grocery stores and non-stores,” Arnold said. Dillon, Director of Retail Ireland.
“It will come at the expense of struggling businesses here. While retailers in border areas will be hit hardest, we have seen in the past that consumers travel long distances to save money.
“Without alignment with Northern Ireland, retail businesses in important parts of the country could easily find themselves losing out.”
Weekend reports in the Sunday Independent newspaper said the government planned to begin Section 11 of the Public Health Alcohol Act within weeks, which would set a minimum price of 10 cents per gram of alcohol. ‘alcohol.
The move would lead to higher prices for many cheaper alcoholic products, which Retail Ireland said it understands and appreciates the health rationale.
But he said the government had previously pledged not to introduce MUP until similar rules are introduced in Northern Ireland, which is not expected to happen until 2023.
The current government program commits to implementing the MUP “in consultation with Northern Ireland”.
An Ibec report from two years ago estimated that a unilateral decision by the MUP would increase the existing alcohol price differential between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland from 27% to 38%, resulting in a direct loss of 94 million euros for the Irish Exchequer.
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“At a time when we desperately need a strong retail recovery, the government is considering introducing rules that will drive significant volumes of trade north of the border,” Dillon said.
“It would be a big blow to businesses here and result in a significant loss of tax revenue for the state.”
The Retail Ireland position was supported by another Ibec industry group, Drinks Ireland.
He said the beverage industry supports the sale of cheap alcohol to reduce alcohol abuse.
But he said while acknowledging Northern Ireland’s delays in introducing the measure, he believes MUP should be introduced in conjunction with the North, as promised by the previous Cabinet decision.
A series of questions on the subject sent to the Ministry of Health on the subject have so far not been answered.
Meanwhile, Alcohol Action Ireland, the independent national advocate for alcohol harm reduction, has said the greater public good far outweighs the continued protection of private business interests.
In a statement, Alcohol Action Ireland said there are many factors that contribute to consumers’ choice to shop in Northern Ireland.
Currency fluctuations, the VAT differential and a large difference in the cost of living remain constant factors in these considerations, and not the setting of a floor price for alcohol, he said.
Alcohol Action Ireland argues that with the introduction of MUP, the cheapest alcoholic product available in Ireland will always be cheaper than these products in Northern Ireland, as a presentation by the Department of Finance Tax Strategy Group showed last July.
“If Ireland is to make progress in tackling its chronic alcohol-related public health crisis that directly kills three people a day and indirectly kills seven, we just need to make sure less alcohol is bought,” he said. -he declares.