Current Affairs Domestic vintners outraged over planned introduction of wine tax
In its ongoing effort to find ways of lowering the state budget deficit, the Czech government has announced that it is planning to introduce a new tax on wine. The country’s winemakers are enraged and believe that this step will lower the competitiveness of domestic vintners, while giving foreign producers an edge on the Czech market.
Ten Czech crowns per liter – that is the new tax that lawmakers are planning to introduce on all non-sparkly domestic wines. Czech vintners are livid: Such a tax would put the country’s producers at a great disadvantage to foreign winemakers, and most likely make it hard for them to compete, they say. Martin Půček is the director of the Czech Winemakers’ Association. He is strictly opposed to the planned tax.
“We as winemakers, and I will say this very clearly, we are absolutely and firmly against this nonsensical suggestion and feel that it is an attack on one of the last remaining areas of our country’s agriculture and one that would destroy it. Introducing a tax of 10 crowns per liter for wine, if you consider that all other wine-producing EU countries do not have a tax on wine at all, is an inconceivable step that would prevent our country from being able to compete with wines from abroad.”
While the country is much better known for its breweries than for its wineries, some 20,000 Czechs work in this branch of agriculture. Many winemakers fear that the tax will not only hurt the competitiveness of domestic vintners but also lead to many people losing their jobs; especially in Moravia, the country’s chief wine region. Martin Půček says he has found the negotiations with government officials on the issue frustrating.
“We have been negotiating and talking to officials at all levels of legislature. Sadly, in the Czech Republic, our representatives say one thing and do another. We had been given the impression that the tax would not be introduced after a series of meetings, yet now it has officially been suggested, and we do not agree with this and will fight until the very last moment.”
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has said that this planned step will actually protect small wineries – those would be exempt from the tax, while both imported wine and domestic wine from bigger vineyards would be taxed. This could bring some 1.3 billion Czech crowns to state coffers.