Sunday 25 September 2016

Tax on alcohol must rise in Budget to cover the social cost

Published 17/09/2015 | 02:30

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

In 'Noonan considers tax hike on cigarettes and alcohol' (Irish Independent, September 15), cigarettes and alcohol are referred to as the 'old reliables'. During 18 of the last 26 Budgets, there has been either no change in excise duty on alcohol or a decrease in rates.

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If you are an 18-year-old in Ireland today, the excise duty on a pint has increased just twice, and been cut once, during your lifetime. Meanwhile, there has been an explosion in the availability of strong, cheap alcohol in the off-trade, where supermarkets now dominate.

Alcohol is far from an 'old reliable' and the rates of excise duty have declined significantly in real terms in recent decades, as alcohol affordability has increased.

Our current level of alcohol taxation, including excise duty and VAT, falls €1.6bn below covering its €3.7bn annual cost to society and that substantial tab is picked up by the taxpayer.

Excise duty on alcohol must be set at a level that reflects its significant health, social, and economic impacts - to do this requires an increase in the forthcoming Budget.

Conor Cullen, Alcohol Action Ireland, Dublin 1

I read with interest John Cuffe's letter in the Irish Independent (September 15). I agree that the USC should be abolished but I also want to see the Pension Levy on old-age public service pensioners abolished.

When I retired in 1998, the Pension Levy, the USC and the Property Tax did not exist. Their introduction has placed an unfair and unjust burden on old-age public service pensioners.

We got no pension increase to help us carry this burden. Like Mr Cuffe, I am sick to the teeth hearing the Taoiseach and other Government ministers say the country is thriving.

That being the case, the Government must now abolish the Pension Levy and the USC tax on old-age public service pensioners.

As there is no public body or society to speak out for the old-age public service pensioners, I appeal to those who read this letter to make their voices heard by all the politicians.

"Ní neart go cuir le chéile"

Desmond Nolan, Annaghdown , Co Galway

The role of the superpowers

Where are all the superpowers - ie, Russia, USA, etc - engaging with the horrendous refugee crisis? It has almost reached the state of World War III.

It is my understanding the superpowers are either individually or collectively partially responsible for the crisis in the first place.

Countries like Italy, Greece, etc, are taking the brunt of the problem while the EU appears to be either incompetent or irrelevant.

Michael O'Mara, Patrickswell, Co Limerick

If George Bush was still in office, I do not doubt that a huge swathe of media commentators would be baying for his blood over the refugee crisis. What is stunningly absent is coverage of the Obama administration's role in creating this crisis.

It is rather ironic that Obama, who takes satisfaction in not having been in favour of invading Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein, should be obsessed with removing Assad in Syria. He is a despot not anywhere near as brutal as his buddy Hussein nor remotely as brutal and barbaric as Isil.

In Obama's rush to please his supporters, he withdrew from Iraq prematurely, at the same time declaring al-Qa'ida a defeated force and leaving the ground open to Isil.

They not only took great advantage of American withdrawal but were supplied with weapons from Benghazi.

Obama turned every lesson on removing Middle Eastern dictators on its head as he gave support to Isil factions in Libya and killed Gaddafi, leaving it in a worse state than what it was and laying the ground for human traffickers in Libya.

If the Syrian crisis is to be resolved, Obama will have to acknowledge his mistake and open channels for Assad remaining on in power.

John McGrath, Hollyford, Co Tipperary

Quotas are necessary

Miriam Donohoe (September 16) says that "powerful and intelligent women" should be "influencing and playing an important role today" in our politics. Yet she objects to the quota system designed to achieve this.

With more than 50pc of the electorate and 30pc of the candidates, there is no reason why there will not be many more powerful and intelligent women influencing our politics in the future.

A Leavy, Sutton, Dublin 13

Labour in peril

On 'Morning Ireland' (September 15) Joan Burton presented a bleak picture of the failures of the Labour Party since 2011 and its potential contribution to a future government.

Having stated the day before that "Labour will be elected to Government - because it's vital for the future of the country", there appears to be little empirical evidence of this in the interview.

Admitting that Labour did not prevent cuts as promised prior to 2011, the Tánaiste took refuge in a sweeping statement about helping to get the country back on its feet and the payment of water grants.

But a mere 24 hours earlier she stated "Irish Water payment rates will increase over time". This seems to be a 'promise' Labour will keep.

Johanna Lowry O'Reilly, Dublin 6

Corbynomics has failed

With respect to Phillip O'Neill, (September 15), the last thing this country needs is a Jeremy Corbyn. This is a man who espouses economic policies that haven't worked anywhere in the world they were tried. From the Soviet Union to Venezuela, all they've done is reduce people to penury.

In the Middle East, Corbyn supports Hamas but has nothing to say about the oppression of women and gays in Gaza who suffer dreadfully under Hamas's Sharia Law. He has nothing either to say about Isil, other than we should talk to them to find out what they want - as if that wasn't obvious.

Jeremy Corbyn once stood in silence to honour IRA members shot dead but there is no known instance him doing the same for IRA victims. Now as Labour Party leader he has appointed as his shadow chancellor John McDonnell, a man who once publicly saluted the bravery of the IRA; a calculated insult to Quinn, Rafferty and McCartney families.

Eddie Naughton, Dublin 8

Irish Independent

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