Public Consultation Launched On “Sugar Tax”

January 4, 2018 | 48 Comments

The Ministry of Health has today [Jan 4] launched a public consultation on the proposed implementation of a tax on sugar, with the consultation on a proposed tax that will “apply to the importation of sugar, candies, sodas and other beverages with added sugar into Bermuda.”

A spokesperson said, “The Ministry of Health has launched a public consultation on the proposed implementation of a tax on sugar—the initiative announced in the Speech from the Throne in September.

“A Ministry of Health survey found that 75% of the island’s adult residents are overweight and more than a third of adults are obese. The prevalence of obesity and diabetes is one of the highest amongst the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development [OECD] countries.

“The Government began the consultative process by setting out specific objectives and identifying options. The current stage is determining the best option and developing a framework for implementation including detailed policy design.

sugar drink TC template Jan 4 2018

“The proposals target a list of items for added levies at the point of their importation into Bermuda. They include sugar, candies, sodas and other beverages with added sugar.

“The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on the detailed policy design rather than to seek views on alternative proposals. The consultation period, spanning eight weeks until 1 March, 2018, is expected to yield feedback to be considered as part of a sugar tax model for Bermuda, with an expected implementation date later in 2018. Consultation responses will be made public.

“The Ministry has collaborated with the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Department, and has reviewed documentation from other jurisdictions.

“In studying their methods of implementation, the Government is being guided by the World Health Organisation, the Pan American Health Organization and other international bodies with respect to benefits derived from a sugar tax.

The consultation will run for eight weeks, starting today [Jan 4] and ending on 1st March 2018, and the Ministry said you can respond by:

  • 1. Respond to the questions online here
  • 2. Alternatively, respond to the summary of the questions in Section 7. Send response by 1 March 2018 by e-mail to health@gov.bm or by post to: Attn: David Kendell, Director of Health, Continental Building, 25 Church Street, Hamilton, HM 12.
  • 3. Response must include your name and state if you are a business, individual or representing an organisation. In the case of an organisation, please indicate the number of people you are representing.
  • 4. Do not send consultation responses to the Minister. All views and responses must be considered in the public consultation process and will be made available to the public. There will be no private consultations.
  • 5. In the interest of transparency, anonymous submissions cannot be accepted.

“Paper copies of this consultation document may be obtained free of charge from the above address. This document and the online feedback form can also be accessed from our website. All responses will be acknowledged, but it will not be possible to reply to individual representations.

“Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the Public Access to Information Act [PATI].”

The Sugar Tax Consultation Document follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (48)

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  1. nerema says:

    There’s a longer consultation period for this than there was last time they restricted human rights.

    • Athena says:

      Political expediency and playing to voter base = shorter consultation period?

  2. Double S says:

    Nanny state.

  3. stunned... says:

    PLP Government

    Note: The last thing people in Bermuda need is more taxes.

    If this government is genuinely concerned about the consumption of sugar rather than hitting people in the pocket book they can employ a number of measures:

    1) Education via the education system, Public Service Announcements, Community Nurses and Educators, programs to incentivise and reinforce good eating habits and choices

    2) Liaise with the food retailers here, for example a substantial amount of food is DESTROYED because the retails refuse to mark down the product. Suggestion – find out ways how those products can be safely used and re-sold in a different market. As an example, not everyone wants a shiny apple or perfect carrots if they intend only to juice them anyway.

    3) When you consider that people on a limited income cannot afford the better quality of meats, food products, penalizing them with a tax on affordable sugar-y foods is counter-intuitive.

    PLP government please do better.

  4. gotcha says:

    I say if you have a BMI of 25% or greater just don’t insure…harsh but effective.

  5. Coffee says:

    Drink your coffee black , no sugar …. No cow to milk , no cane to cut , no tax to consider …. Just pure black , strong , hot Coffee

    • Oh Boy says:

      Agreed… If you need to put sugar in your coffee to make it taste good then you shouldn’t really be drinking coffee. That’s like wanting to exercise and buying an electrically assisted pedal bike.

    • Sara says:

      Almond milk or coconut oil and milk and stevia.

  6. Rock Watcher says:

    Implementing a sugar tax under the guise that it’s to help the over weight population,is just and excuse to get more money to Government , the only people it will affect are the wholesalers bringing it in it will not stop people drinking these sugary drink or help obesity if that’s the case increase tax on all foods, everything in excess will make you overweight, change the eating habits you will help obesity and the health of our island.

    • Oh Boy says:

      We should stop insuring overweight people unless clinically proven they have a weight gaining disorder. Simple. People need to stop being so lazy

      • Ringmaster says:

        Just base the insurance premium on so many dollars per pound weight. Another proposal. A car has to be examined annually so why shouldn’t people also have a compulsory annual check up as it’s usually cheaper to catch a problem early. No annual check up – reduced insurance benefits.

    • Jimmy says:

      http://theportugalnews.com/news/portuguese-cut-sugar-intake-by-5500-tons/44523

      Portuguese reduced their sugar intake by 5,500 tonnes in 2017, which officials said was due to the tax on fizzy drinks introduced at the beginning of the year.

      Overall, the consumption of drinks with high sugar contents, dropped to half in the space of a year. The Health Ministry meanwhile revealed that the sugar tax resulted in an increase of 80 million in revenue, money which was channelled directly to the National Health Service.

  7. Toodle-oo says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous .
    Take a look at all these obese people around here . I bet their weight problems have a lot more to do with a sedentary lifestyle and a diet that consists to mostly (expensive) take out food .
    How much of the obesity problem that we see all around us actually has to do with sugar ?

    So here I am with a BMI number of 15 anxiously looking forward to being stung for a pound of sugar for baking or the occasional soda or sweet treat when it’s not the root cause of the problem .

    This is just another money grab . Gov’t is broke folks . They don’t give a rat’s behind about you or your health . Support this now all on your high horses but wait for the next creative tax levy that will hit you.

    That reminds me , the price of oil is rising again . We should have all enjoyed a nice breathing period of a couple of years but because of our debt situation the last government simply increased the taxes on it taking advantage of the lower price.
    The tax will never be lowered ( they never are ) so we can soon look forward to $3 a litre fuel prices ! Wait ’till you see how that spins off and affects the cost of living .

    • Oh Boy says:

      All the more reason you should start running or riding to work…Bam, two birds one stone.

  8. Kim Smith says:

    I think this public consultation to consider a sugar tax is a very good idea. I would like to hear from the Bermuda Diabetic Association on their view. At least the government is doing something to focus on this health risk.

    • Anbu says:

      The main cause of diabetes in bermuda is not sugar. Its greasy unhealthy foods in large portions on a regular basis. Type 2 anyway. Too much unhealthy food and not enough excersize. Plain and simple. Again the people who generally follow a healthy lifestyle will have to suffer for the irresponsible. And they will still consume sugary things with no moderation. Win for government and not us……….AGAIN.

    • Truth says:

      I agree. SEVENTY-FIVE % of our island is fat! 75% is a HUGE number! Clearly education isn’t working. Hitting people in the pocket book may be the only way to get these people to decide if sugary foods are worth it. If so, eat up! The tax money used to cover YOUR healthcare costs will be coming from YOU, not me anymore.

    • Truth is killin' me... says:

      It’s not the sugar Kim…it’s the FAT GREASY FOOD. HIT THE DIRTY BIRD…KFC!!

  9. Joey Bag O'Doughnuts says:

    So, with the gangs and violence problem and unemployment on the island government thinks that sugar is more pressing than those? Priorities, priorities.

  10. jty says:

    If the goal is to alter behaviour, then we should include a review of consumption changes.

  11. nerema says:

    If they cared about health they would lower healthcare costs. But anytime that comes up the ‘special interests’ pulling the puppet strings behind the scenes get in the way.

    • Sara says:

      You can’t lower health costs with increasing rates of diabetes and obesity! That’s why we are in this situation. Plus the government has no money to help with anything.

  12. wahoo juice says:

    Will the proceeds be directed back to the health services or used towards travel expenses? Basically they are asking for input but do not have to acknowledge anyone….sounds like they have thought up a new tax and want it to go through so don’t bother coming to the meetings (if there are any).

    You think we might also look at charging school kids bus fare again that might help pay for some nice things.

  13. Triangle Drifter says:

    No doubt a tax on sugary foods is a good idea, provided the money is sent straight to deal with the problem such as organisations dealing with diabetes. Bottom line is the people who are abusing the sugar will pay for taking care of themselves.

    This will not happen. It will go straight to the Government slush fund used to pay for far too many civil servants & GP cars. It is nothing but yet another revenue stream.

  14. R says:

    If the Government is looking for a new source of revenue it would make more sense to legalize cannabis and collect taxes on the sales.

    • PBanks says:

      They’ll do both if they want to.

    • stunned... says:

      no. that would make sense.

      no reason why Bermuda can’t lead the way and export organically grown cannabis. new cash crop. cannabis tourism.

  15. Ringmaster says:

    Please submit evidence (if any) that the proposed tax could have potentially adverse impacts on lower income persons.

    Who came up with that no brainer question? Evidence? A tax means higher prices so of course it will affect lower income persons. It’s not a tax on caviar or truffles that only the rich buy.

  16. Kevin says:

    This is nothing more than a smoke and mirror operation ….more taxation is coming …the PLP do not have another way of generating revenue ..they do not know how to manage expenses and will need more money …so we have to fool you by saying we want to get Bermuda healthy …wow really boy they really do think their voter base is not that sharp ….love it
    Stand by more crazy reasons to tax you is coming
    its either they aren’t smart or you are
    I didn’t vote them in but love watching the train wreck in slow motion sorry i will suffer along but it is what it is

    • No consultation necessary says:

      Agreed. This is just one part of their plan to tax us to death. Wait til their tax commission suggests taxing every source of revenue including rent and sales tax. Then include the living wage which will further raise the cost of living.

      As you said it appears they have no clue on how to raise revenue via economic expansion, and will instead take everything we have without any corresponding increase in services to be provided.

      If you think this island is expensive and unaffordable already, your ain’t seen nothing yet. I see another mass exodus in the recent future.

  17. Ripley's believe it or not says:

    Governments way of increasing revenue- pure and simple. If the Government is truly concerned about their people then you would think they would reduce costs of fresh veg & fruit and educate people-Not jack up the costs of drinks and food they can afford.

    Pure revenue stream disguised as helping people! Not cool.

    • Micro says:

      This is all it is. But government can’t afford to reduce or eliminate duty fees for healthy food options without finding an alternative to offset those revenue losses.

  18. Imjustsaying says:

    Lets see how we can rob the public of their hard earned money, yeah I know let’s tax something they all use & love like SUGAR! .. SMH!

  19. Mrs Brady says:

    This tax is a complete and utter waste of time.

  20. DNA says:

    If they do introduce a sugar tax then they should use the money to subsidize the ridiculously overpriced fruit and veg.

  21. Mark says:

    Right like salty foods don’t make ppl fat…we gonna have a salt tax next for pizza , chips , fries , burgers, nuggets etc….

  22. thumper says:

    Tax stupidity…there is absolutely no shortage of that.
    Try removing taxes that are absurd ,for instance…one hundred percent on first ten thousand and 150%£ after that of the value of a motor vehicle…yes…go ahead ..remove that…that would be in “our” best interest….
    It is our best interest that motivates the use of an abacus and the need to control “us” .Tell you what…you do you…and I’ll do me

    …..get your hand away from my pocket!

  23. Hope says:

    “The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on the detailed policy design rather than to seek views on alternative proposals.”

    So are they just rubber stamping this in the guise of “consultation?” If you can’t suggest better alternatives, then what is the consultation even for?

    Their is a major obesity issue here yes, but how about reducing taxes or offering subsidies on healthy foods, or paying towards health plans for those most at risk (including children from low income households), instead of taxing sugar?

    It isn’t just sugar, it’s fat content and lack of exercise. You can’t address just one and expect the others to just resolve themselves.

  24. Sara says:

    I would like to add that an overlooked reason that many are obese is due to an addiction to food. Mental health counseling can help those identify why they are abusing food. Not to mention sugar is more addictive than cocaine!

  25. Micro says:

    How about making healthy food stuffs more affordable instead.

  26. Hungry says:

    All this talk about food is making me hungry lol

  27. swing voter says:

    I add sugar to nothing….I occasionally sneak a drink with 17g or less sugar. I watch the starch intake. I like my coffee black. All this to reverse diabetes. The nerve pain was excruciating…the muscle mass loss made me look ill. The lack of energy robbed me of any joy in life. It took over a year to get back to almost feeling normal….ain’t going there again.

  28. Y-Gurl says:

    Fried chicken tax? Even more harmful, is this just another revenue stream for a broke government?

  29. Pah says:

    If healthier options were more affordable perhaps people would opt to go that direction.

  30. Reality Check says:

    What is needed , is for somebody from Gov , wholesalers etc , to demonstrate the actual change in prices to the consumer . It is meaningless to the general public to know what the duty rate will be without knowing the actual value that rate is applied to at the point of entry . The general public cannot possibly offer reasonable consultation on this proposal without knowing exactly how it affects their wallets .

  31. stunned... says:

    you know it’s purely a money grab by this government as they paraded the idea of a sugar tax prior to any public consultation, input from relevant medical and health organizations. in reality, the taxation should have been an idea of last resort – when all other alternatives were exhausted.

    Moreover, this taxation will do nothing for the reduction of obesity. in a remote possibility it will promote more obesity by the creation of a Sugar Taxation department whose sole function is to arbitrarily update the listing of what should be taxed or not! …more civil servants on the already bloated payroll.

    this government needs to be called out on this farce.

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