A €1 increase in excise duty on bottles of wine will have a hugely negative impact on the restaurant and tourism industry, according to the Restaurants Association of Ireland. In a statement, the organisation said it was “dismayed” with Budget 2013, adding that the Government had failed to tackle the issue of below-cost sales of alcohol, and that a lack of consumer stimulus will cause increased restaurant closures. The RAI described the retention of VAT at 9% as “the only bright spot” in the austerity budget.
“The Government squandered an opportunity in Budget 2013 to address the shortage of Chefs at all grades, which has now reached crisis levels. Overheads, regulatory burdens and local authority charges will all rise exponentially for restaurateurs over the next twelve months. Restaurants need access to credit to cover crippling costs – which The Government is not granting,” the organisation said.
Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said that the budget was very short-sighted and didn’t address the needs of the restaurant industry in any way. “The increase in Excise Duty is another burden restaurants don’t need- one euro on a bottle of a bottle of wine will bring a lot of restaurants to their knees. Most restaurants are simply struggling to survive, especially those outside the major cities. Budget 2013 was not what they needed to see before Christmas,” he insisted.
“The one thing the Government got right is retaining the tourism VAT rate. The retention of VAT at 9% for 2013 is a huge coup for the tourism sector. The restaurant industry alone has created 10,000 new jobs since the VAT was reduced, and spend in that sector has increased. It attracts tourists and, most importantly, encourages people to spend their money in Ireland on Irish goods and services, especially as we celebrate the year of The Gathering Ireland 2013.”
The RAI said that there was a huge shortage of Chefs nationwide, with the organisation’s President Brian Fallon arguing that the Government missed an opportunity to train Chefs and offer them guaranteed employment. “We’ve taken our Professional Cookery programme to FÁS, and now to the Government, and both have rejected the needs of an entire industry. The programme is ready to roll out – at a much reduced cost than what the colleges are using to train them- but we are not being heard,” he said. “Our members desperately need Chefs of all grades, from Malin head to Mizen head – but we needed the Governments support. We’re very disappointed at the outcome of Budget 2013.”
The Irish restaurant industry employs 64,000 people, accounting for one in four tourism jobs, and contributes €2bn to the Irish economy each year.