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'Government must act on alcohol tax': minister

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'Government must act on alcohol tax': minister
10:25 CEST+02:00
The government must fulfil its pre-election promise to raise taxes on alcohol by 2014, said Health Minister Maria Larsson on Thursday, adding that time is ticking on the matter to be resolved before its second terms draws to a close.

Speaking to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper on Wednesday, Larsson said the centre-right coalition government has to take action to address the issue or miss out on keeping its manifesto promise.

"The Alliance agreed to increase alcohol tax and therefore we must act to ensure it is discussed in the budget negotiations this autumn," Maria Larsson said.

"It's the last chance we'll get it done during this mandate period," she added.

Larsson's Christian Democrat Party are echoing her calls to ensure the increase in alcohol tax materializes, backed by the Liberal Party and Moderates. The remaining Alliance member, the Centre Party, has showed more reluctance.

Prior to the 2010 election, the Alliance vowed to: "increases tax on alcohol and tobacco in order to reduce their harmful effects."

Reform ambitions outlined a pledge to increase excise duty on alcohol, yielding a treasury surplus of around 1.1 billion Swedish kronor.

In late 2011, discussions on alcohol tax were raised but withdrawn and the Alliance has remained silent on the subject since.

The Liberal Party's Barbro Westerholm, member of the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee agrees that it's time for the government to act.

"All promises in the manifesto must be fulfilled,” she told SvD. "It's a document that all four parties stand behind. And so it will be implemented next year."

Moderate party member, Henrik von Sydow, chair of the Tax Committee, added that the topic should be raised in budget negotiations but an increase in alcohol tax will not necessarily be the end result.

"We want balanced taxes so we have to weigh up a tax increase against the risk of it leading to a rapid surge in smuggling and border trade,” he told SvD. "Added to that, we have to remember that that Denmark has recently lowered its beer tax."

Sweden's temperance society IOGT-NTO has recently reiterated its demand for alcohol tax to be increased by 10 per cent in 2014 since the price of alcohol, adjusted for inflation, has declined since Sweden joined the EU in 1995.

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