Log In

Reset Password

Premier: Changes in sugar tax to be made

Can it: the Government is to amend the controversial tax on goods containing sugar (Photograph supplied)

The Government is to make changes to the controversial sugar tax, the Premier has revealed.

Speaking during a debate in the House of Assembly yesterday afternoon on the Customs Tariff Amendment Act — which will provide customs relief on 21 food and household items — David Burt did not reveal how the tax will be changed.

But he did say that amendments to the tax are in the pipeline after it came under the microscope of the Cost of Living Commission.

Mr Burt said that the commission had held “extensive discussions” on the tax and the Ministry of Finance was now assessing what changes can be made.

He said that some changes could be made “administratively” but that legislation may have to be brought before the House to bring about other amendments.

The tax on products containing sugar was introduced by the Government in October 2018 as a weapon in the war on diabetes. It was hoped that higher prices would deter residents from consuming sugary drinks.

Cole Simons, the leader of the opposition One Bermuda Alliance, said that the tax should be scrapped completely.

He said that the OBA welcomed tax relief on essential food items as a way of assisting families struggling to survive against a rising tide of inflation.

He said: “We are living in difficult times and a lot of the things the Premier said I have to agree with.”

He then added: “But one thing that’s different is the sugar tax. If they are concerned about the cost of living, the Premier could get rid of it today. They have the ability. If you’re serious about people who are struggling now, get rid of the sugar tax now. You can do it.”

Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, who is also the chairman of the Cost of Living Commission, defended the tax.

“I think it was geared at candy and sodas — stuff that will take you out,” he said. “The objective is a worthy one, trying to improve our health.”

But OBA MP Craig Cannonier hit back, saying that the tax had failed to change consumer habits.

He said: “This sugar tax has got to go. That’s the first point of attack because we all know it’s not doing what it was intended to do — diabetes hasn’t gone down over the years.

“We have got ourselves habitualised to stuff that’s killing us — and I’m not just talking about the sugar, I’m talking about the cost.

“One of the challenges I have is that when you put the sugar tax in place, local entrepreneurs went out of business. They’re not coming back. They’ve gone.

“The sugar tax increased the cost of goods across the board.”

Reading the Customs Tariff Amendment Act for the second time, Mr Burt, who is also the Minister of Finance, said that food prices were rocketing globally — an issue that required “caring leadership and decisive action”.

He said that the tax relief on the 21 “essential” items — which include beef, chicken, bananas, green beans and sanitary products — would reduce prices by at least 10 per cent.

Mr Burt also assured MPs that grocery stores had agreed to pass on the savings to the consumer.

He said: “Three chains have confirmed an agreement to reduce prices by 10 per cent. Many are concerned about seeing a reduction in our stores. I am fully confident that they [supermarkets] will continue to work collectively.

“Eliminating duty is a further step as we do all that we can to assist our citizens against rising global inflation.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published October 08, 2022 at 7:37 am (Updated October 08, 2022 at 7:37 am)

Premier: Changes in sugar tax to be made

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon