Economist, McCarthy Marie, has indicated that he is pleased with the announcement made during the presentation of National Budget that there will be a rise in taxes on high sugar foods and drinks.
During the presentation, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said there will be a 10 percent tax increase on foods and drinks with high sugar content.
“I jumped with joy when I heard he put tax on sugar,” Marie told DNO.
According to Marie, for more than three years he has been calling for tax to be raised on sugar.
“It is killing the people and they finally did it…I am very happy,” he stated.
In an article published in 2013 entitled, ‘Tax policy and health,’ Marie laid out his case for the taxing of sugar.
“It is our view that the exemption of sugar from the VAT is an example where well-meaning tax policy leads to unintended negative impacts on health,” he wrote, adding in light of scientific data Government should reverse its tax policy on sugar and begin to tax its consumption.
“Since sugar is consumed in myriad ways including an ever-increasing amounts of sugared beverages of all sorts, the administration might want to start by imposing a special levy on sugared drinks, including the so-called juice drinks,” he wrote further. “The increase in the price of sugar should be accompanied with an aggressive campaign against the consumption of sugar similar to what was undertaken against the use of tobacco.”
In terms of the new tax, Marie believes it should be higher.
“But it’s a start,” he noted.
The 10 percent tax increase will also be placed on cigars, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.
The Prime Minister justified this new tax measure by citing the “bad practices” of smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and foods with high sugar content, as major contributors to ill-health.
Skerrit said the revenues collected from the measure will contribute to the production and maintenance of a national “Get Healthy” Campaign, “in which we take the message to our schools, civic and community organisations, churches and NGOs and the public at large.”
The new tax will become effective from September 1st, 2015.
During a recent visit to Dominica, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, strongly recommended that the powers that be make it more difficult for citizens to acquire unhealthy foods.