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.