An 10 percent tax increase will be placed on cigars, cigarettes, alcohol beverages, as well as food and drinks with a a high sugar content, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has revealed.
“Cigars, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages already attract an excise tax. The excise tax rate on all these items will be increased by 10 per cent,” Skerrit said while presenting the national Budget for the 2015-2016 financial year on Friday.
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.
“While we have introduced interventions to encourage physical activity, there is need to take action to reduce the consumption of substances, which have a direct causal link to the incidence of CNCD’s,” he said.
He said in order to discourage the use of these items, sugar confectionery – that is, sweets and candy, soft drinks and other sweetened drinks, including energy drinks, and chocolate bars will be taxed.
The new rates will become effective from September 1st, 2015.
Skerrit said the revenues collected from this 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.”
Meanwhile, he urged individuals to take greater responsibility for their health.
“A good health care system, and a hospital on its own, will not prevent illness,” Skerrit explained. “There must be greater emphasis on prevention, we must make healthier choices in what we eat and drink, and take the responsibility for remaining active, so as to reduce the possibilities for developing chronic non-communicable diseases.”
He also reiterated his call for Dominicans to support local, pointing out that the success of the country’s local manufacturers and producers depends in large measure on the support that they receive from the population.
“If we continue to believe that everything that is produced elsewhere is better than what is produced in Dominica, then we will never be in a position to have large producers, who can provide the jobs that we want for our young people,” he argued.