The Irish Government has "missed" an opportunity to address the problem of high alcohol taxes in the country, according to The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI).

Following the publication of the Commission on Taxation report today (8 September), DIGI chairman Kieran Tobin said that the consumer in Ireland is "more heavily taxed than any other consumer of alcohol products in Europe".

However, the consumer group said it regrets the missed opportunity the report offered to address the appropriate balance between direct and indirect taxes in the overall tax system.

"DIGI is also disappointed that the Commission did not take into account our already very high alcohol taxes in drawing-up its recommendations. These taxes weigh heavily on our domestic cost base and our competitiveness in the international tourism sector," Tobin said.

"DIGI believes that there is absolutely no scope for any further increases in excise duties on alcohol and that they are not an effective means of addressing alcohol misuse or public order issues.

Tobin added that cross border trade and rapidly declining general consumption are having a "major impact" on the industry and the 90,000 jobs it provides, particularly in the border region where many pubs, restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs have already closed due to competition from cheaper competitors in neighbouring Northern Ireland.

"DIGI welcomes those aspects of the report that highlight the high levels of taxation that the average consumer is subject to and the difficulty that arises from out of country sourcing of alcohol. We trust that the Government will take this into account in the upcoming Budget 2010."

Ireland's Alcohol Beverage Federation yesterday backed a call for warning labels targeted at pregnant women, but has rejected a proposal for the Government to review weekly drinking guidelines.