Antigua initiates steps to impose tax on sugary beverages

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Antigua & Barbuda has taken the first step to what will likely result in an increase in taxes on soft drinks as well as food with a high sugar content in keeping with the global move to stem the increase of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The talks began last year, and during an interview yesterday, Health Minister Mowlyn Joseph revealed that the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) was asked to commission a study to guide the process.
“We have PAHO doing the study which we will receive next month. But our thinking is, if we increase the tax on sugar, we will decrease the tax on the foods that are healthier,” Joseph said.
The minister said government will reduce significantly, taxes which are currently imposed on fruits and vegetables, thus reducing the cost on consumers.
“If the consumer decides to make that transition to a healthier lifestyle it will be cheaper for them. We do not know what the study will suggest, but we will be doing this without the scienfitic information,” Minister Joseph said.
The minister also said that once the report is in hand, the government intends to consult with the public so that the best decision can be made.
A sugary tax on sugary drinks is a key recommendation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the global attempt to raise awareness in combating chronic non communicable diseases – hypertension, strokes, diabetes and cardio vascular disease. Concern has also been raised about the growing incidence of childhood obesity.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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