UK: Minister calls for agreement on duty hike impact
A UK minister has warned the alcoholic drinks industry that it must work closer with authorities to highlight the pitfalls of raising excise duties.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Gin & Vodka Association, held today (14 May) at London International Wine Fair & Distil, Jane Kennedy MP, the Minister for Farming and the Environment, said that the drinks industry needs to liaise more closely with treasury officials going forward. Responding to a question regarding the recent duty hike in the UK, Kennedy said ministers currently faced having to choose between advice from treasury officials and drinks industry trade bodies.
"What we need to know and understand is the exact economic impact on your industries of the proposed tax structures," Kennedy told GVA members. "There needs to be agreement between both sides on that impact.
"As far as possible, get an agreement on what the overall impact will be with treasury officials. Where that's not possible, flag it through the association who can then bring it to the attention of members of parliament."
Kennedy added that the Treasury needed to be advised of "the whole picture".
"Sometimes we can be accused of focussing too much on certain aspects and not seeing the bigger picture," Kennedy continued. "If we are missing parts of the picture, we need to have it described to us in a way that we can assimilate and challenge, and we need to be able to test it. Having done that, we will then be able to say that we can see what you were thinking, and therefore we can respond."
Last month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, incurred the wrath of the drinks industry when he announced an above-inflation increase in excise on alcohol. The British Beer and Pub Association said at the time that the move was akin to signing a "death warrant for thousands of Britain's pubs and for tens of thousands of British jobs".
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