Parliament approves tax increase on unhealthy items

There will be a tax increase on sweets, chocolates and sodas
There will be a tax increase on sweets, chocolates and sodas

A 10 percent tax increase on unhealthy items, such as cigars, cigarettes, alcohol beverages, as well as food and drinks with high sugar content, has been approved in parliament.

The bill called, “The Excise Tax Amendment,” was among a number of legislations debated in parliament.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the increase will target sweets, chocolate and aerated beverages, among others.

In the case of malts, he revealed that the rates in 63 cents per litre, while soft drinks or sodas the rate is 20 cents per litre.

According to Skerrit through this amendment order the government is reaffirming its commitment to the 2001 Nassau Declaration by CARICOM Heads of government that “the health of the region is the wealth of the region…while encouraging citizens to adopt healthier eating habits and lifestyles.”

He said the government will continue to monitor statistics on non-communicable diseases (CND’s), “in order to determine whether the new rates area a sufficient deterrent to the consumption of large quantities of sweets and alcohol.”

Trade Minister, Ian Douglas, was the first to support the bill.

“We really had to take stock as a responsible legislator… I believe it’s an effort that needs a bipartisan approach from all sides of the house and I suspect we had that when those measures were introduced via the budget and I am sure we have that support today,” he noted. “Because we see what it is doing in every community in Dominica and I would think in the region.”

Douglas pointed out that pressure is placed on the economy when productive members of society suffer as a result of the consumption of unhealthy foods.

“When we have productive citizens of the regions, of our member states, coming down with diabetes which a lot of the times lead to complications that have to be treated by amputations, these are really productive citizens that are being pulled out of the productive workforce which puts added pressure on our economies,” he explained.

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43 Comments

  1. The one
    November 29, 2015

    Instead of raising taxes on unhealthy foods the government should regulate the price on healthy foods and lower their prices. I mean we live on a very fertile island i should not be paying $5 forma hand of green bananas!!

  2. Emile Zapatos
    November 29, 2015

    A tax is a tax, that’s what it is. It may be progressive or regressive, but its main purpose is to raise revenue, to improve or increase public sector income. This food tax, like most “Sinful” or luxury taxes does not change lifestyles. These items are “Fun” like boos and smoking.
    What is required are programmes that promote healthy eating. We need to switch to fresh natural organic foods, that are produced locally. Those imported foods are full of trans fats, hommones, chemicals. Some imported meats and fish are in storage so long that what we eat is petrified , like eating food from the ice age.
    Then there is a difference between drink and juice. A % of juice means its chemical. You need 100% juice

    • Emile Zapatos
      November 29, 2015

      Then there is the question of reducing your intake of salt, sugar and fat and boos. then you need to be active or may need exercise.

  3. Working poor
    November 29, 2015

    The average person would love to make the healthier choice but they do not have the finances. While you increase the tax on unhealthy why not make the healthy ore affordable. 100 % juice is expensive , it is more likely I would buy a coke for $2.50 compared to $7.00. While we try to find ways of reducing CNCD’s we need to also think about the economical side of things. Every thing gone up except Salary.

  4. November 29, 2015

    I welcome my homeland to the list of countries imposing “sin taxes” on their residents: the United States of America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, The Philippines, Sweden and Canada. (Some commentators maintain that the practice is actually universal).

    In “Taxing Sins” (Sales Tax News, 07/25/2013), Gail Cole wrote: “Why do federal and state governments tax sins? Is it because sins are inherently bad and lawmakers feel the need to protect us from them? Is it because lawmakers know people will always sin, and therefore sin taxes are a surefire source of revenue? Do sin taxes protect us from ourselves, or exploit our weaknesses, or both?”

    Each semester, students in my Federal Income Taxation class debate a similar question. And each year, we witness the lengthening in the list of sins that are taxed, to now include alcohol, cigarettes, sodas, fatty foods, gambling, guns and ammunition, violent video games and lap dancing. Yet, absent tobacco use, sin flourishes…

  5. Dr FITZROY Armour
    November 28, 2015

    Great to see that some of my suggestions at the2009 prebudget consultation are finally being implemented.
    They should however extend the ‘sin taxes’ to include alchohol.and invest in breatherlizers which would be a revenue generator for the government.
    mental ilnnness is rampantnclude mental health among the non communicable diseases.

  6. November 28, 2015

    he will remove the taxes on healthy foods nearing election and then he will say I love my people for them to vote for labour again……….just wait and hear aND SEE.

  7. 4-cars
    November 28, 2015

    This Government knows nothing concerning “INOVATION.” They are just COPYCATS. Watching and listing to what other countries are doing, and doing the same. Salt is more deadly than sugar. I rather have a little illness than for POLITICIANS to rob my money. :twisted:

  8. ???????????
    November 28, 2015

    One thing I noticed the comments are out of context to the article. How can an in crese in certain tax kill children when it is the unhealthy consumption on those items will make you sick and then lots of spending on medical. You people always amaze me and now I realise that some of you don’t even like yourselves and family. I don’t consume none of the items mentioned so the taxes won’t affect me. Time 2 ask knowledgeable questions when you do not understand. Instead of those foolish statements, read again and again, understand that when u hear the word tax increase, you must understand on what is the tax increased. Does it affect me? In this instance, the tax will only affect those who want to smoke and want to have unhealthy choices. What are your choices. Consuming the items and paying 10 pc more or wise consumption and not being affected by the increase. The choice is yours. Moi meme pas ka smoke, drink alcohol, parka Manger say processed sweetened items. Moi ka garder figure…

  9. Correction
    November 27, 2015

    November 19, 2015

    “We still think that Health Care starts when one gets sick. An ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure Mr Prime Minister. Diabetes and most illnesses in Dominica are lifestyle or genetic related can be alleviated if not prevented with early detection, lifestyle changes and medication.

    If you really care about the people, you would initiate programs to educate about and reduce alcohol and tobacco consumption.

    You would reduce the importation and use of unhealthy foods and hazardous products.

    There will be cases where people will still not take care of themselves by not making healthy choices like not exercising, and excessively consuming alcohol and tobacco, but nobody can blame you if you initiate prevention programs like a true Leader.”

    Now work on the importation and use of hazardous products like some pesticides.

  10. Blackman net
    November 27, 2015

    So that is the best revenue generator that the government of dominica could come up with……..I just wanna say to the people that re- elected these idiots “it good for all you “. That government is the worst ever . You want to tax “unhealthy foods” the food is already soo expensive you still want to tax it. There isn’t any other way in dominica to generate revenue …. …..now I agree I living in an idiocracy……peace

  11. dee
    November 27, 2015

    Why not fund a GYM? Dominica has a few gyms and they are packed at peak hours!

  12. Jusua
    November 27, 2015

    The psychology really working on fools but not on me. They cannot increase everything because people will complain so they came up with the idea ” why not fool them and make them believe that we concerned about their health” so they increase the tax on sweet stuff… COME ON SKERRO… Chocolate is an afrodisiac it’s good for men and also women too it increases libido also malt…how does malt fall under bad stuff… You ever drink a nice cold vitamalt on a hot day how that does make you feel strong. These guys just finding a way to tax us more… I mean I understand cigarettes and the booze but not chocolate and malt. What about the decrease on healthy foods or on farm imputs so the dasheen and vegetables will cost less… We need to be empowered and encouraged…if you have $500 in you bank account and withdraw $100 dollars then after 5 months you will have nothing if you don’t save something every month… Don’t cut us one side and not grow us on the other… Magray Sah!

  13. Watching and Listening
    November 27, 2015

    I listened to the NCD Debate:Any comment in the news item about the issue with the date which was missed?

  14. Roseau River
    November 27, 2015

    In a free society (Dominica)….people should be free to make bad choices (eating unhealthy foods) without government imposing additional taxes.

    • UHURU
      November 27, 2015

      Hey Roseau River,
      If you were paying for all your medical ailments that would be fine!!

      But, will you be paying for your next medical ailment?

      IF so, then tell government to STOP paying for any of your medical care the next time you end up in a hospital especially after you have eaten “whatever” you would like to eat!!!

      Tell them you prefer to pay your complete medical bill. You don’t want any medical subsidies!!

    • Deleoncourt
      November 27, 2015

      fact

      you still have the choice you just have to pay more
      fact two most of the health care in d/ca is heavily subsidized so when one falls sick from unhealthy eating we all have to pay.

    • Correction
      November 28, 2015

      People who make bad choices usually become the responsibility of government for health care. Except for some issues like “unavoidable” accidents, genetic problems etc., the majority of patients taxing our medical system are as a result of bad choices. Their negative impact on us as a community is threefold.

      Firstly, they are no longer in the constructive workforce human resource pool.

      Secondly, the remaining human resources which make better health choices have to be diverted to care for those who don’t care about themselves, instead of improving our community for ourselves and future generations.

      Thirdly, the medical expenses they incur on the community are a hemorrhage (pun intended) to our national budget.

      Government is responsible for efficient budget utilization. Those who willingly make bad choices are only “paying it forward” in these higher taxes aka the price for living in a “free society”.

    • ???????????
      November 28, 2015

      So u love others? Don’t care if they make bad choices Now I guess you will say let them fight and kill… no prevention measures. Lawless let people do what they want.. No order, no discipline.m what is says of you selfish, arrogant, a hater, unloving, uncaring, no care for health,. Me, I, Myself attitude. No compassion. I am very sure that is not the kind of person u want to potray since that shows also that you are disatisfied with you, yourself in the first instance.

    • The Real Facts
      November 29, 2015

      You really did not put on your thinking cap on this one. God gave everyone a free mind and will. It is the same free mind and will which will either save us or condemn us. There is a consequence and a price to pay for disobedience and negligence.
      Consider when they become ill and have to be treated. Some may not be able to work and will be in need of medical care and medication for the rest of their life.. The government has to bear the burden and at the expense of taxpayers.
      Nationals are aware of the end result of ingesting unhealthy foods. It may not deter everyone. There will be some who will care enough to decrease or eliminate their intake of unhealthy food and drink. It is better to be healthy than sorry.

    • Markey
      November 29, 2015

      While you say we live in a free society and people can make bad choices and government should not impose taxes on the suggested foods, when these same people develop diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, obesity, they should not ask the tax payer to meet their medical bills, You choose to eat bad food, then pay for your own medical expenses and don’t become a burden on the state.

    • November 29, 2015

      NONSENCE who treat people when they get sick we first have to take steps to control our people health
      so this thing about free society that\’s true but if you want it so bad pay the cost I drink beer I am willing to pay the price that go with it thank you.

    • Roseau River
      November 30, 2015

      Maybe I was not clear in my communication…. Government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. Government should not be held responsible for peoples bad habits either.

  15. Christ like
    November 27, 2015

    Very Wise

  16. too late
    November 27, 2015

    In other words chavez is not around gadffi is not around lapseng is not around so the government is broke. the only way out is tax and passport sales.

    I love My PM

    • The Real Facts
      November 29, 2015

      Think of yourself first. Nationals must pay their fare share of taxes. If you are not employed and cannot pay your fair share of taxes, no one can pay it for you. Likewise if you are employed and do not pay your taxes. It decreases the country’s revenue.

  17. LifeandDeath
    November 27, 2015

    I applaud the government’s effort in trying to deter the consumption of sugars contributing to CNDs. Don’t forget however, we all have a personal responsibility to be temperate in our consumption.
    I believe also that the government needs to look into incentives to nurture family life because other that health problems associated with CNDs we also have many social ills (robberies, violence, sexual depravity, single parent homes, singles in their 40s etc.) that contribute negatively to long term wealth creation in the country.
    DA is ours to build!!

  18. Tahlullah
    November 27, 2015

    Good!!! Take dat in allu backside!!! (Tony Astaphans voice). Is that allu vote for…TAKE IT AND DOH COMPLAIN when allu cannot even afford food to eat. I hope he raises taxes AGAIN in another 4 months. ZOR TOH KAPON!!!! Dominicans making me shame. Allu fraid to stand up to ONE MAN???? ……………. and when things get rough he will be flying FIRST CLASS to America with his American family. Merry Christmas FOOLS!!

    • The Real Facts
      November 29, 2015

      This is an unpatriotic comment. You are implying that no one should pay taxes and taxes should not be increased? What do you want from the government and your country?
      Those old days are gone. It is absolutely necessary that everyone pays their fair share of taxes. You owe it to the country, government and other nationals. Each one must pay their dues without complaining.
      As Our Lord said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. . . .” So shall it be written and so shall it be.

    • Emile Zapatos
      November 29, 2015

      @Tahlullah…….DNO, how can you allow such hatred to be posted. How does this help to create a good attitude or a safe country. I think you should be more selective in the coming year.

  19. Lisle Bruney
    November 27, 2015

    Increasing excises on imported sugar and alcohol products is a half-hearted approach to fighting chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

    How about implementing waivers on things that contribute to a healthier lifestyle, such as exercise equipment for personal and commercial (gyms) use? I came up with this idea while eating lunch. What are our elective representatives being paid to do; think INSIDE the box?

    • ???????????
      November 28, 2015

      Yes good suggestion on your second paragraph.

  20. Frank Talker
    November 27, 2015

    C’mon Ian and Skerro, this is all about increasing Government’s revenue, and nothing to do with addressing the heath of the nation. If these products are really unhealthy and putting the country at risk of not being able to fully utilise its human resources, as well as putting pressure on the health services, why not just ban them? Alternatively, why not consider a quota system? Or why not take a hint from Sen. Robert Tonge to reduce the tax (and ultimately the price) on those products to force compliance with health policies, just as he recommended reduction in the fine for littering to force compliance with public health policies? Maybe if the price of those products fall, they may be seen as inferior products, thereby causing a reduction in consumption and, ultimately, health complications. My point basically is that a price hike on its own, will NOT bring a reduction in consumption. An alcoholic will find alcohol to consume unless he is reformed.

    • The Real Facts
      November 29, 2015

      It is to their benefit. For years now, we have been warned about unhealthy and unnecessary food and drink. Those products have no substance. All the same, they cannot be banned. Nationals are free to eat and drink them at their own risk. If they purchase them they must pay the tax. Other countries do likewise and have been paying taxes on them for years. No one complains.
      You either purchase them if you so wish or do not purchase them. I personally hardly ever purchase them. I love home cooking. People can make their own drinks with fruits and water or milk; even with coconut water. Generally, I purchase what is healthy. Where necessary, I make my own.
      People will be healthier for it and look and feel better.
      There are some taxes people could avoid paying. Some of the items can be made at home. Ingredients are needed. If they are food/healthy products they are non-taxable.

  21. Watchful eye
    November 27, 2015

    I think this takes care of the problem only quarter-way. You increase levies on the bad stuff but do not reduce it on the healthier stuff. Make healthy food alternatives within the financial reach of more the population. People are now between a rock and a hard place; having to pay large sums for both healthy and unhealthy foods.

    • dee
      November 27, 2015

      the soft drink is cheaper than water! of course we must buy it!

    • The Real Facts
      November 29, 2015

      If you have the yard space, grow your own.
      If you have kitchen space, make your own.
      It will be more economical for you.

  22. Thorbjørn Jagland
    November 27, 2015

    Lordddddddd Omg Omg Skerrit have mercy on us, Tropical Storm Erika just pass i from petite savanne i have no job that is all i can afford omg skerrit have mercyyyyyyy. I hungryyyyyy :cry:

    • The Real Facts
      November 29, 2015

      Purchase what you can afford. Some people in other countries are no better off than you. Poverty and unemployment exists everywhere. They make do with what they have. In Dominica, to a certain extent, you are better off than some people. You can grow your own and make your own.
      If you do not purchase unhealthy food and drink, after a while you will not have the urge for them. It will be to you as if they are not even sold. You would not bat an eye for them.

  23. None of your business
    November 27, 2015

    Kill the farming industry and now your gonna kill our poor children, that can’t afford to buy a proper meal to go to school, how are they going to have the energy to learn when they can’t afford food neither sugar to boost up there immune system??
    The ministry of education provided children with tablets that a not protected at all its just like any other tablet, so are the parents of these children going to sell those tablets to feed there children???? Because having a tablet doesn’t mean you will learn, eat or enjoy life….last time I check you need internet to access those tablets.

    • The Real Facts
      November 29, 2015

      You appear to have it all wrong. The issue is on unhealthy food and drink; not nutritious ones. Can parents not cook at home and nutritiously for their children? It is less expensive to have home cooked meals.
      It was not stated that they eliminate sugar. It is advisable to decrease sugar intake as certain beverages.
      The students who were given tablets are to use them at school, at the government’s expense of internet cost. It was not stated that they must use them at home.
      .

    • Markey
      November 29, 2015

      If its none of your business for the government to impose taxes on items which are bad for ones health, then in later life when these same kids develop NCD, then you should not burden the government with your medical bills and problems. These same children who can’t afford to buy a proper meal to go the school, they find the money to buy expensive cell phones and pay much in weekly top ups. In their parents monthly expenditures, do they put food at the top of their requirement, and leave the non essentials at the bottom of that same list. Its all about making choices, because the choices we made NOW will determine our health when we age.

  24. Dominican
    November 27, 2015

    Tax increase on unhealthy items without making healthy items cheaper?

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