The report’s author, Anthony Foley said the report “clearly illustrates that the drinks industry is important for Ireland’s economy through employment and taxation as it works towards national recovery”.Read: Youth charity calls on Arthur’s Day acts to donate fees to alcohol abuse groups>Read: A pint in the Stag’s Head listed in top 50 ‘must eat experiences’> THE NUMBER OF PUBLIC houses declined by 959 from 2007 to 2012, according to a report by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland. (DIGI)As a result, DIGI is calling for a task force to be set up to address the decline of the local pub and independent off-licences.The report published today finds that sales in pubs were down by one third since 2007. The result of these downward statistics is that employment in pubs was down 17 per cent from 2008 to 2012.Drinking lessPer capita, Irish people are also consuming less alcohol, according to the figures, that state consumption is 14.1 per cent below 2007 levels.The report revealed that despite significant pressure, the industry still provides over €2 billion in VAT and excise receipts and generates over €1 billion in exports annually.The drinks sector also provides approximately 62,000 full or part time across different sectors of the economy with over €2 billion worth of inputs purchased by firms across manufacturing, retail and wholesale.DownturnHowever, DIGI says the industry is under increased pressure with bar sales down 33 per cent and an overall decline in retail sales of 12.5 per cent. From 2008 to 2011, there were 6000 job losses in the retail sector.Chairman of DIGI, Peter O’Brien said the report comprehensively demonstrates the significant contribution the drinks industry makes to the economy but said that last year the government increased excise on alcohol which has added substantial hardship to an industry.He is asking that the increase be reversed in the upcoming budget.He said: The facts are stark. In the manufacturing sector there has been a drop in employment levels from 6,146 in 2000 to 3,605 in 2011, across the 30 enterprises in drinks manufacturing.In the on and off trade retailers there has been a substantial decline in the level of retail employees in recent years.