Government to increase alcohol taxes
The Swedish government is to propose raising alcohol taxes, in the budget that is being presented next week, reports TV 4 News. The move has been welcomed by temperance groups, but would widen the gap between alcohol prices in Sweden and those in surrounding countries.
According to the report, the tax on liquor would be raised by 1 percent, while that on wine and beer would be increased by 7 percent. That means price of an average bottle of wine at the state monopoly liquor retail stores would rise by SEK 2.
The Public Health Institute, which has previously called for an increase in alcohol taxes, has welcomed the proposal, as does IOGT-NTO, the Swedish temperance movement.
But Erika Nylander, CEO of the industry organization for alcohol importers, tells the TT news agency “This is not public health policy, it is a political game and a very disturbing situation.” She says the government has underestimated the effects a tax increase will have on border trade and smuggling.
Swedes are allowed to bring in virtually unlimited quantities of alcohol from surrounding EU countries, where the prices are already much lower. Swedish Radio News reports that Public Health Minister Maria Larsson is downplaying the risks of increased smuggling.
Confirming the proposal to journalists in connection with a meeting of EU ministers in Latvia, Finance Minister Anders Borg says the level of the tax hike has been held down, to lessen the risk of increased smuggling when alcohol prices go up.