Tuesday 22 October 2019

Price rise for cigarettes 'will lead to increase in cross-border black market'

 

Fear factor: Clones shop owner Eamon McCaughey is concerned about effects of a hard Brexit. PHOTO: GERRY MOONEY
Fear factor: Clones shop owner Eamon McCaughey is concerned about effects of a hard Brexit. PHOTO: GERRY MOONEY

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

THE 50c rise introduced to cigarettes will lead to a cross-border black market, according to a business owner in north Monaghan.

Eamon McCaughey, owner of the Matthews shop in the Border town of Clones, Co Monaghan, said he fears the emergence of a black market in border towns after the price of a packet of cigarettes was hiked again to €13.50 in the Budget.

While there was no increase in the cost of alcohol, something Mr McCaughey had feared, the incremental rise for cigarettes in recent Budgets has led to the emergence of a small black market, he said. The 36-year-old believes the latest rise will see a cross-border boom in illicit cigarettes.

"Cigarette sales are declining the whole time in my business and it's all going to the black market - it's only going to get worse now.

"Cigarettes are a high proportion of my business and it brings in footfall, but I can see people turning to the black market."

The father of three said there is huge uncertainty around Brexit.

The Government is allocating more than €1.2bn, excluding EU funding, to respond to Brexit.

Some €650m has been earmarked for the agriculture, enterprise and tourism sectors. A further €365m will also go for extra social protection if unemployment rises as a result of a no-deal Brexit.

The remaining €390m will be determined closer to the time and will assist farms, businesses and citizens.

Mr McCaughey said the vague 'citizens' bracket did not give businesses like his any more clarification about their future.

"It's just all about the fear of the unknown," he said. "Our suppliers don't know if there will be tariffs on the products we buy. We don't know if there will be Border checks or if movement is going to be free."

Irish Independent

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