Thursday, 7 February 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Deputy for his question. As I have an interest in this issue, I am glad that he raised it. I will give the House my view as an Independent.
There are at least two aspects to the Deputy's remarks on vitamins. First, many people, including me, take them and avail of supplements regularly or, if we forget, sporadically in order to improve or optimise our health and well-being. This is often the case for people, in particular older people, who believe they are deficient in certain areas and need supplements to counteract it. In other cases people take vitamins while recovering from illnesses or because they feel run down. From that perspective, I understand why the Deputy has raised the issue. Many Irish people depend on vitamins and supplements for their well-being, including me.
The second aspect relates to the viability of businesses that depend on the sale of these products for their livelihood. Given the general uncertainty about Brexit, additional impediments such as the increased VAT rate cause concern and deserve our attention. As my father sold health food products and vitamins, I understand the issue from the consumer's perspective, as well as from a business perspective.
These issues have been raised previously and I have listened to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, address them. I was in touch with him about them. I am pleased to say he is reviewing the matter, albeit with the caveat that it involves an interpretation of the law that could prove to be an insurmountable difficulty. However, I understand he will be in a position to come to a conclusion on the issue in the coming days.