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Harris sought ‘substantial’ rise in off-licence fees

No increase was contained in the Budget announced by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan last October.

The request is outlined in a letter Minister Harris wrote to Minister Noonan two weeks before the announcement of Budget 2017.

“I am also proposing a substantial increase to €1,000 per licence (currently €500) for each of beer and wine,” Minister Harris wrote in the letter seen by the Medical Independent (MI) following a Freedom of Information request.

“I am further proposing that the annual duty for an off-trade spirit licence increase from €500 to €1,500.

“These increases could be introduced in an incremental basis and will re-enforce the contention that there are significant responsibilities associated with the sale of alcohol and the cost of obtaining and renewing a licence should be commensurate with these responsibilities.”

A Department of Finance spokesperson confirmed to MI that “there were no changes in any off-licence fees in Budget 2017. The cost of each licence is €500 per annum and, typically, an off-licence would hold a beer licence (which also includes cider), a spirits licence and a wine licence concurrently.”

Last month MI exclusively revealed that Minister Harris sought price increases on cigarettes and alcohol that did not make Budget 2017.

Minister Harris wanted a €1 increase in the price of a 20-pack of cigarettes. Budget 2017 put forward a price increase of only 50 cent.

With alcohol, Minister Harris sought an excise duty increase on spirits, beer, cider and wine. There was no excise duty increase included in Budget 2017 on any of these items.

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