The Punt: Some booze for thought
As it handed out gongs for retailers last night, the National Off-Licence Association has been, naturally enough, defending its turf.
It insists that high excise duty levels on alcohol here have hit the sector hard, with jobs lost and a rise in cross-border shopping and illicit trade. It says the Government should be focusing on the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which the organisation hopes will "properly regulate the sector".
In general, we Irish have a relatively unhealthy relationship with alcohol, being amongst the biggest consumers in the developed world according to the World Health Organisation and the OECD. That's despite our taxes on booze being amongst the highest. So it leaves you wondering who's right? As one US study points out, one of the fundamental laws of economics is that the quantity demanded of a product is inversely related to its price. Based on theory, therefore, increasing the price of alcohol would be expected to lower consumption.
That study, which examined previous studies undertaken in the US, showed that six of nine studies "consistently indicated that higher taxes were associated with a lower prevalence of youth drinking". The nine studies also showed the effect was the same for adults. Maybe we just love our booze too much to give it up, no matter what the price.
SHOW'S OVER -- MOVE ALONG
Michael Noonan seemed more relaxed than usual yesterday as he strolled into the first meeting of eurozone finance ministers of 2014.
It would be a short meeting, he told us, with the biggest event being the welcoming of Latvia as the euro's newest member. This, he said, "wouldn't excite much debate''.
"I think today's meeting will be a short meeting. There doesn't seem to be any controversial items on the agenda,'' he told reporters.
Oh, how times have changed.
Even the press rooms, in recent years packed with reporters from across the continent, were relatively lacking in journalists.
It was a reminder that while serious issues remain in Europe to be resolved, the crisis days are, for now it appears, behind us. Ministers may be debating the finer details of banking union, but there hasn't been an emergency meeting or crisis get-together for quite a while.
The excitement was reserved for today's EU-Russia summit in Brussels as tensions over the Ukraine mount.
As for Minister Noonan, he likely had his sights set on this five-day NTMA/IDA trip to New York, for which he leaves this morning.
The less excitement the better when you're trying to charm investors.
ACCOUNTANTS DBAS ADD STAFF
THERE is plenty of movement at one firm of accountants with five new appointments.
Chartered accountants, DBAS, announced the expansion to its team in Dublin and Ashbourne – with further jobs planned later this year.
DBAS boss Dermot Brennan claimed growing demand from small to medium businesses as the economy gets back on track is fuelling the intake.
His new team, below, of counters and book-keepers includes Nathan Oratis, a chartered accountant with more than 10 years' experience who is ready to assist clients with accounts preparation.
Paul O'Donoghue has also moved to the firm's accountancy and audit team, where he will be responsible for a mixed portfolio of work covering accounts preparation and audit services.
The former KPMG auditor has over four years' 'Big 4' experience in accountancy and auditing.
Meanwhile, trainee accountants Michael Fitzgerald, Nicola Farrell and Michelle Twomey have joined as part of the graduate trainee programme. The new recruits up the three-partner firm's staff to 19.
Brennan said it is more important than ever that business owners and directors have access to the right business advice.
"As a result, we have experienced a growth in new business and an increase in demand for our advisory services. This has allowed us the opportunity to further strengthen our team," he added.