President’s Introduction – October

I hope the season is going really well. Tourist numbers are up and I do hope they are eating out and keeping your establishments busy this Autumn. I must thank all the TDs and ministers who attended our pre budget submission at Buswells Hotel. It was a great chance to chat and for them to understand and acknowledge the work both the association and team RAI do for the country.

As the President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland I urged that the Government must acknowledge rural Ireland and help with its recovery and growth before it becomes too late. They must address the challenges we face in the economy. They now must address the issues we face in rural Ireland and understand that the rest of the country does actually exist beyond the Red Cow Roundabout.

As President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, I have a platform to discuss local issues that affect our membership and growth, it’s with this it brings me to talk about my home town and rural Ireland’s development. Over the past two years, I’ve seen first-hand what the previous and current governments have done for rural Ireland; Unfortunately, I have to say we have not seen any growth in the north west and it’s about time we did. The government need to tackle the following issues along with others and that’s why it’s imperative they address them.

Chef Shortage at Crisis Revels 

If the government were to get anything correct in this years’ budget it’s to tackle 5 major things that are affecting our industry, firstly, Chef shortages. The new apprenticeship proposals are a stepping stone in tackling the crisis but the re-establishment of CERT is the only solution.  We state that the main skills shortages are among suitably qualified chefs. Shortages of commis chefs feed into shortages at higher and specialist levels. Among the applicants submitted for chef positions, many are deemed not to be appropriately qualified. This reflects the fact that there is not enough chef training centres. Currently 1800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes. There is an immediate deficit of 5000 chef trainees annually. So therefore the chef shortage in this country is an ongoing problem and needs to be addressed. We need this to be addressed for every member of the association to see it grow and for the future job creation and growth within our industry

The Retention of 9% VAT Rate 

Since the reduction of the VAT rate for the tourism industry in July 2011, our industry has created 45,260 jobs- and the number would have been higher if we had access to chefs to fill the needs of the industry. The decision to retain the rate of VAT to 9% for tourism products would provide a much needed boost for the sector by allowing restaurants and cafés to create jobs, especially in rural Ireland. Since the VAT cut, employment in the restaurant and tourism sector has increased by approximately 31,000 direct jobs with an additional 14,260 indirect jobs. This gives a total employment increase of 45,260 new jobs. This growth will continue if VAT at 9% remains in effect. It’s vital to our survival and competitiveness.

Rising Costs of Insurance

Members keep seeing a rise in insurance costs; please make sure to highlight this fact to all your representatives as it has to be controlled and measured as Data from the CSO show that private motor insurance costs have increased by 38.3% in the year to July 2016 and have increased by 69.8% between July 2013 and July 2016. In line with the increase in private motor insurance, commercial insurance costs are also rising strongly. Members of the RAI are reporting that commercial insurance costs have increased by up to 50% over the past 12 months. Restaurants that operate a ‘take away / delivery service’ have seen their motor insurance premiums increase by 100%. It is time this stopped, this is why I and the association are calling for an investigation into the rising costs of commercial insurance.

Lift Good Friday Alcohol Sale Ban 

The ban of alcohol sales on Good Friday must be lifted. This outdated, religious law is unacceptable in a multicultural society and at such a busy time for the tourism, restaurant and hospitality industry.

The Crippling Increase in Excise Duty 

Finally, excise duty: tourists and Irish consumers compare Irish prices with those in other tourist destinations, e.g. Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece and Germany where there is no duty on wine. Wine served with a meal in a restaurant should attract the rate of 9% VAT applicable to food in restaurants.

Slan go foill,

Anthony Gray

President RAI

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