Earlier this week we learned that Customs officers seized 32,000 illegal cans of lager from a warehouse in Birmingham, representing £51,000 of lost duty value according to HMRC. Hopefully this success will encourage the government to continue with robust enforcement of the existing laws against duty fraud.

Clearly, if just one warehouse seizure represents more than £50,000 in lost revenue, the magnitude of the problem warrants the government's continued attention. According to the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, duty fraud costs the government in the region of £500m annually money the government can't afford to simply let slip through its fingers.

Of course, we all have a part to play in preventing duty fraud we sell to reputable customers, all of whom are registered with HMRC. We are not complacent, but it is government's responsibility to enforce existing laws in a robust manner.

Instead of focusing resources to tackle this serious issue, the government focuses only on duty, as the solution to just about any problem. They say when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but the government has many tools in its arsenal beyond imposing more duty on our industry.

We know our public finances are in rough shape but irresponsible duty increases on beer duty such as the 8% imposed on the industry last year and a dogmatic duty escalator that takes no account of what is happening in the economy are not the answer. They are placing unprecedented burden on UK brewing at a time when other industries are receiving significant support to weather the economic crisis.

It's like the Jedward twins: what is easy and popular is not necessarily the best choice for the nation. We all like to have a laugh with The X Factor on Saturday nights, but the government shouldn't be making policy based on what requires the least effort and makes a nice sound bite.

Guest editor Stuart MacFarlane is UK president of AB InBev.

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