The alcohol monopoly to be abolished?

I wish this heading would be about Sweden but it is not. It is about Pennsylvania where a new law was almost passed that would abolish the existing monopoly on alcohol (wine, beer spirits) sales in the US state: Privatization Is Political Victim in Pennsylvania.

Apparently it is likely that the law will instead be passed in the autumn.

But there is actually a very vigorous discussion in Sweden at this moment about alcohol policies and politics. But it is not, unfortunately, primarily about how to abolish the monopoly.

Instead the debate concerns the “Swedish” internet wine shops that have sprung up in recent years since Sweden concluded an agreement with the EU that allowed Swedish individual to buy alcohol from sellers in other countries.

The state owned monopoly Systembolaget is pushing a very active and aggressive campaign that argues that this is illegal, in spite of current legislation and agreement with the EU.

They have even commissioned a report from a retailing think tank (HUI Research) that make projections of how the sales of alcohol on the internet might develop.

A closed Systembolaget shop

A closed Systembolaget shop, copyright BKWine Photography

The monopoly retailer Systembolaget, its CEO (Magdalena Gerger), its chairman (Cecilia Schelin Seidegård) as well as an anti-free-market liberal (!!?) politician (Carl B Hamilton), who also happens to be paid as a board member at Systembolaget, all paint a scaremongering picture of “almost 30% of all alcohol sales being sold through profiteering private internet shops within ten years”.

There are two issues with this:

The report describes three scenarios: a low scenario with 1.3%, a medium scenario with 6.9% and an extreme scenario with 28.7% of sales of alcohol on the internet in ten years’ time. In their propaganda they of course never mention the 1.3% and the 28.7%…

The second error is more important: the numbers in the study include the sales from the Systembolaget in their estimates. In other words, even if the extreme scenario happens the vast majority of those 28% would be sold by the monopoly shops themselves…

A truly bizarre example of how a state owned organisation goes outside the bounds of its responsibility, actively pushes a political agenda (with tax-payers’ money of course), and falsely represents the results of an otherwise interesting research report.

If you really are interested in this (which is hard to believe) you can read a Google translation of the whole story here: Truths and lies about the horror scenario of 30% of alcohol sales over the internet within ten years.

This post is also available in: Swedish

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