Seven major brewers and beer distributors yesterday lobbied legislators to reject the proposed increase in beer duty announced in the March Budget, saying it would not reap the projected $90 million in revenue in any case.
'As the market for beer in Hong Kong has shown an overall decline since the mid-1990s, the Government's expectation . . . is highly optimistic,' they said in a submission to legislators.
The brewers also said the duty rise would affect several hundred thousand workers in the hotel, catering, hospitality and entertainment industries and could lead to the smuggling of cheaper beer from the mainland.
Under the proposed increase, the duty on drinks with an alcoholic content of 30 per cent and below, excluding wine, will rise from 30 to 40 per cent.
The Government has said this will generate a projected additional $90 million revenue this financial year.
The brewers are asking legislators to reject an amendment to the Revenue Bill allowing the increase.
But Secretary for Treasury Denise Yue Chung-yee said the proposed increase was mild and would not have reduce consumption.
'[It] will only increase the duty amount per can of beer in a range of less than 10 cents to around 26 cents,' she said.
The Hong Kong Beer Industry Coalition includes Carlsberg, Foster's, Heineken, San Miguel and Tsingtao, and distributors Wing Hing Provision and Jebsen and Co.