Thursday, April 25, 2024

Call for higher sweet drink tax

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Barbados’ sweet drink tax should be upgraded. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George, said the current ten per cent sugar sweetened beverage (SSB) tax has had a positive impact over the last four years, but it should be bumped up again so Barbadians can better fight non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and childhood obesity.

In an exclusive interview with THE NATION, George suggested the tax be increased to around 30 per cent – a 200 per cent increase. He, however, noted that an increase to 20 per cent seemed more realistic and viable at this stage. With this proposed 20 per cent tax, a soft drink costing $2.75 would retail at $3.30.

The ten per cent tax was introduced by Government in 2015, with the hope that consumers would buy fewer carbonated sweetened beverages and switch to purchasing healthier natural fruit juices, bottled water, or at least sweetened drinks with less sugar per serving. The tax led to a 5.9 per cent price increase in SSB products.

“Public health officials from our end would want to see that tax increased to about 20 per cent,” George said, noting the issue was not touched in the recent Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals. (BA)

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