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Ossinovski: Government underestimated Estonians' desire for cheap booze

SDE chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski.
SDE chairman Jevgeni Ossinovski. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDE) Jevgeni Ossinovski told daily Päevaleht that even though the government underestimated the desire of some people for cheap booze, the government's policy is the only right option in the long run.

In an interview with the paper published on Saturday, Ossinovski said that the current alcohol policy is one of the most research-based policies in Estonian legislation, the results of which will only show over an extended period of time.

He admitted that where excise duties are concerned, cross-border trade had been underestimated. At the same time, further excise hikes have now been abandoned, with Estonia now waiting for Latvian policymakers to catch up.

According to Ossinovski, a strong and well-funded lobby has been working against the government's attempts to curb alcohol consumption by increasing excise duties levied on alcoholic beverages.

Their course had been to attack any attempts at increasing the price of alcoholic beverages on the side of the state.

Ossinovski called Kristen Michal (Reform), one of the front-runners of the opponents, the political abettor of A. Le Coq CEO Tarmo Noop.

According to different estimates, the Estonian state missed out on excise revenue in the volume of anywhere between €20 and 50 million, with some sources even talking about a sum in excess of €100 million due to the fact that Estonians who drive across the border into Latvia to shop for booze also fill up their tanks, go shopping, and have started getting building material from there as well.

Though the current coalition of Centre Party, Social Democrats, and Pro Patria has been blamed for the development, a study of the Estonian Institute of Economic Research published in March showed that the trend started as early in 2015 and was first triggered by an excise hike under Reform Party Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS, ERR

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