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OBA steps up calls for Government to drop sugar tax

Opposition calls for abolition of the sugar tax (File Photograph)

The Opposition has stepped up calls for the sugar tax to be scrapped in next month’s Budget.

Michael Dunkley, the One Bermuda Alliance shadow health minister, insisted the levy should be abolished as part of the financial measures to be unveiled by the Government on February 17.

He said that projected health benefits from the tax had not been proven and that it was now only being used as a revenue-raising device by the Government.

The comments come more than three months after David Burt said that amendments to the tax were in the pipeline.

Mr Dunkley told The Royal Gazette: “It should be scrapped and its effectiveness has not been shown, while government has collected significant revenue with little to show on what has been spent on good health initiatives.

“It is simply a tax for government revenue.

“The Government committed to using the revenue to support programmes to fight against our large health challenges such as diabetes and obesity. That commitment, to date, has failed."

The Premier told MPs last autumn that the tax would be subject to changes but did not provide details.

However, Mr Burt, who is also finance minister, did note that some amendments might have to be made through Parliament.

The OBA has accused Mr Burt of failing to keep his promise to make changes to the sugar tax, noting that the Premier’s remarks were made during the Progressive Labour Party’s leadership election last autumn.

The levy on products containing sugar was brought in by the Government in October 2018 with the aim of helping try to reduce diabetes rates and levels of obesity on the island.

It was hoped that higher prices would put people off consuming sugary drinks in the same volume.

When first introduced, a 50 per cent duty on all sugary soft drinks, candies and plain sugar imports was imposed.

This was then increased to 75 per cent in 2019 and chocolate and cocoa products were added to the list of taxable items.

A government spokeswoman said yesterday: “Any changes to the sugar tax will be announced in the Budget statement next month.”

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Published January 26, 2023 at 7:50 am (Updated January 26, 2023 at 7:50 am)

OBA steps up calls for Government to drop sugar tax

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