Alcohol tax increase bid flops

Alcoholic drinks sold in pubs and restaurants in Linz will not become more expensive due to higher taxes after such plans by the Social Democrats (SPÖ) were snubbed by political rivals.The SPÖ department in the Upper Austrian city said today (Fri) the factions of People’s Party (ÖVP), the Freedom Party (FPÖ), the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) and the Austrian Communist Party (KPÖ) rejected its draft bill. The Greens declared abstention from the vote, according to the SPÖ.The party of Mayor Franz Dobusch announced last weekend it wanted to set up an extra tax on alcoholic beverages for sale in bars and eateries in the city. The Linz SPÖ explained prices of beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks would have risen by around 15 per cent.The party, which holds 26 seats in the 61-member city parliament, hoped to rake in an extra 11 million Euros a year this way. It also argued the levy could have led to a decline of the number of teenage drinkers.ÖVP and FPÖ chiefs, however, claimed the SP֒s idea was only a bid to cover losses the party made in risky investment deals.Austrian Economy Chamber official Hans Schenner labelled the draft law as a “frontal attack” on the industry, while the Association of Austrian Towns and Communities (Gemeindebund) chief Helmut Mödlhammer warned such a measure would badly affect the Austrian tourism sector’s performance.Attempts of the SPÖ to implement higher taxes on alcohol sparked a discussion across Austria where the average per capita beer consumption ranges around 106 litres a year.SPÖ Vienna Vice Mayor Renate Brauner said the suggestion of her fellow party members in Linz should be spoken about in the capital’s provincial parliament.Josef Bitzinger of the Viennese Economy Chamber’s (WKW) tourism and leisure industry office said higher taxes on alcoholic drinks were “ineligible”. Bitzinger went on to call the idea “absurd”.The WKW official argued: “Vienna is the number one city for Austrian tourism. We must not put such enormous pressure on its gastronomy businesses.”