Stricter drink purchase ID law causes a stir

Foodstuff branch representatives and many customers feel infuriated by a new law ordering shoppers to identify themselves if they plan to buy more than 10 litres of wine.The federal finance ministry, which is headed by People’s Party (ÖVP) chairman Josef Pröll, decided that supermarket customers must fill in a form if they purchase more than 20 litres of beer, two bottles of schnapps, 30 litres of non-alcoholic beverages or 10 litres of wine as of 1 January 2011.The ministry argued that the regulation will help its attempts to reduce the cases of publicans reselling low-priced beverages without properly registering such activities. Restaurant bosses and bar owners must inform officials about the purchase of drinks and other foodstuffs for tax reasons. Authorities fear that there are thousands of incidents each year where publicans buy non-alcoholic drinks and spirits on special offer at shops to resell them to guests at their establishments.Previous limits for purchases in supermarkets were significantly higher at 100 litres of beer, 60 litres of wine, 15 litres of schnapps and 120 litres of lemonade.Now business officials claim the tightened rulings are “unbearable”.Nicole Berkmann, a spokeswoman for Spar Austria, told the Salzburger Nachrichten newspaper: “The sector is unable to meet the conditions of the decree.”Economy Chamber (WKO) official Richard Franta announced: “Being ordered to register the customers of these amounts of beverages is also a difficult task for staff.”Franta added he was convinced that the new rule will be changed soon.An unnamed supermarket clerk told Austrian press: “It does happen quite often that people buy three crates of mineral water, and shoppers buying 15 bottles of wine aren’t an unusual sight since there are various bargain offers on all the time.”Finance ministry official Harald Waiglein reacted to the criticism today (Weds). He said: “The limits are not set in stone. I am convinced we will find a solution if there are any problems.”