Move to lower Jersey’s alcohol prices ‘on back burner’

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Assistant Treasury Minister Lindsay Ash has been a champion for reducing the price of alcohol, and has previously said prices have become immoral.

Deputy Ash said: ‘This is something I am still looking at but, to be honest, it is going to have to be put on the back burner. There are bigger projects – the hospital for one – that need to be at the top of the list and we can’t look at alcohol over that. But we are still looking to change things, because they do need changing.’

Deputy Ash explained that it was not the tax driving up the price of alcohol, as is the case in the UK, but the requirements of the 2008 law.

Under Jersey regulations, pubs risk losing their licence if they offer a drink at a price which is 10% cheaper than a competitor.

The same restrictions do not apply to off-licence sellers, such as supermarkets, which often sell alcohol at loss-making prices to attract customers.

‘The law put in place in 2008 hampers it at the moment, and you’re looking at £5 per drink in some places,’ said Deputy Ash.

After speaking out on the matter earlier in the year, Deputy Ash arranged a meeting between the Chief Minister and the competition watchdog CICRA to discuss whether a further investigation of Jersey’s alcohol market should be carried out with a view to reducing drink prices.

The assistant minister added: ‘It isn’t the tax stopping it, but this law. That is why we won’t see a Wetherspoons-style pub here, because their prices are low. And they don’t charge low prices just because they are feeling generous and want to give people something – they are that price and they still make money.

‘For me, if this law went, I think it would create more competition between pubs.’

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