Louth's Breathnach concerned increase in cost of cigarettes will drive smuggling activity
Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach has welcomed measures in Budget 2019, but has said that the further increase in the cost of a packet of cigarettes will only serve to lead to an increase in smuggling and illicit trade, and further undermine legitimate traders and business owners.
“I welcome that Fianna Fáil have secured €310m over three years for affordable housing for working people which has been a priority", says Breathnach.
"That will potentially deliver 6,000 affordable homes which is a 300% increase. The focus now must be on delivery.
He continues, "measures in relation to childcare with €89m announced, and the additional Parental Benefit of two extra paid weeks for each parent are welcome.
“I do have a real concern however regarding the further increase in the cost of cigarettes which will only serve to drive smuggling activity and is yet another blow to legal traders who are paying high rates and are compliant in every way.
“There are criminal gangs peddling cigarettes for €5 per pack. This new increase will see the average pack retailing at €12.70 in the Republic of Ireland.
"For business owners in the border region, they are also in competition with prices north of the border where a pack can be bought legitimately for approximately £8.
"Small shops depend of sales of cigarettes to drive sales in other areas where customers are likely to purchase other items at the same time.
“According to the group, Retailers Against Smuggling, illegal tobacco trade cost Ireland €1.76 billion between 2010 and 2017.
"That’s enough to build 8,400 social houses in Dublin but instead this money is in the hands of criminal gangs.
“Revenue needs to put more resources into preventing smuggling and illicit trade.
"I will be pressing to get legislation I introduced in the Dáil last year, The Sale of Illicit Goods Bill 2017, moved forward to Second Stage in this Dáil term", concluded Breathnach.