Budget 2024: Some gains – and pains
While supports have been welcomed, independent retailers say increases to the national minimum wage and excise duty on tobacco will have a detrimental impact
11 October 2023
Increases to the national minimum wage and to the excise duty on tobacco that were announced in Budget 2024 by Finance Minister Michael McGrath will have a harmful impact on independent retailers in the Republic of Ireland, the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has warned.
At the same time, Fed members gave some of the measures, including €250 million worth of support for businesses and greater funding for the justice system, the thumbs up.
Unveiling the 2024 Budget, Minister McGrath said that from 1 January next year, the minimum wage would rise by €1.40 per hour to €12.70. Meanwhile, duty on cigarettes increased by 75 cents on Budget night, taking the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes to €16.75.
Minister McGrath also announced that domestic tax on e-cigarettes and vapes would be introduced in the next budget.
Responding, Martin Mulligan, the Fed’s president in Ireland, said: “While we want to pay our workers a fair and reasonable wage, the cost of doing business is rising all the time and independent retailers continue to struggle.
“Increasing tax on tobacco products will inevitably drive smokers into the hands of criminals who deal in counterfeit and contraband goods, depriving both the government and retailers of revenue.
“With energy costs remaining stubbornly high, we are disappointed that there was no mention of energy support for small businesses,” Mulligan added.
On a positive note, the government has announced funding of €250 million for businesses, although Mulligan called for clarity around what this would be and the specific help available to the independent retail sector.
Meanwhile, a package of €172 million in 2024 for the whole Justice sector will help fund 1,000 gardai recruits and a €25 million increase in the garda budget to meet overtime demands
Paschal Donohoe, the minister for public expenditure and reform, said this was part of the government’s plan to make people “feel safe” in their communities.
“There has been a huge increase in shoplifting in recent months, but when we report these incidents, nothing is done about it,” said Martin Mulligan. “We are pleased to hear of the additional funding and hope it will help to combat the rise of retail crime in Ireland and help to better protect retail workers from violence and abuse.”