345 Responses To Sugar Tax Consultation

March 16, 2018 | 11 Comments

The Ministry received 345 responses to the sugar tax consultation document, Minister of Health Kim Wilson said in the House of Assembly today [March 16], with 52% in favour and 44% against.

In providing a summary of the findings of the consultation, the Minister said:

  • There was more support for a sugar tax than opposition [52% in favour and 44% against].
  • 100% fruit juice should not be included at this time [63% agreed and 29% disagreed].
  • Milk-based items should not be included at this time [51% agreed and 37% disagreed]
  • Dilutables should be taxed [47% agreed and 38% opposed].
  • Candy should be taxed [60% agreed and 31% opposed].
  • The Tax should be 75% [43% in support].

Minister Wilson said, “While we await the full analysis of the responses, the Ministry is conscious of the valuable public discussion that took place during the consultation period which highlighted other things we should consider beyond the proposals which were set out in the consultation paper.

“We have to consider all the feedback in full. For now, I just want the public to be aware that we have listened to the discussion, and are using the feedback to develop and refine the policy options to implement a sugar tax that is feasible and meaningful to our local context.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr Speaker

I rise today to inform this Honourable House of the preliminary findings from the sugar tax consultation.

Honourable Members will recall that the Speech from the Throne of September 2017 indicated that the Government would begin consultation on the introduction of a Sugar Tax on certain foods and beverages in Bermuda.

On 4th January 2018 the Ministry of Health published online a consultation document which outlined proposals for a Sugar Tax. The public were invited to respond during the consultation period, which lasted 8 weeks and ended on 1st March 2018.

Mr Speaker

The Ministry received 345 responses to the consultation document. Due to the number of responses, which included detailed text commentary and feedback, we have prepared a preliminary interim report to provide a summary overview of the consultation feedback. The Sugar Tax Consultation Interim Report is available on our web site under ‘health consultations’.

Mr Speaker

In summary, the findings of the consultation were as follows:

  • There was more support for a sugar tax than opposition [52% in favour and 44% against].
  • 100% fruit juice should not be included at this time [63% agreed and 29% disagreed].
  • Milk-based items should not be included at this time [51% agreed and 37% disagreed]
  • Dilutables should be taxed [47% agreed and 38% opposed].
  • Candy should be taxed [60% agreed and 31% opposed].
  • The Tax should be 75% [43% in support].

Mr Speaker, The Government undertook this consultation in order to hear the views of the public on a proposed framework, in order to refine policy proposals that we can consider for implementation. The Government is serious about reducing chronic diseases in Bermuda and considering all the options to reduce the impact of life-style related health problems. Indeed, in addition to the sugar tax consultation, duty rate amendments were developed to eliminate the duty on healthy essential foods such as some fresh fruits and vegetables. This is all in an effort to help Bermuda eat a healthier diet to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.

Mr Speaker, While we await the full analysis of the responses, the Ministry is conscious of the valuable public discussion that took place during the consultation period which highlighted other things we should consider beyond the proposals which were set out in the consultation paper. The comments and feedback received from members of the public will be analysed in detail in the full Consultation Report, so we can look for better ways to address the concerns, such as the opinions expressed about whether items like diet drinks and chocolate should be included.

Mr Speaker, In addition, the Government is also conscious that concern was raised in the public dialogue that the proposal to tax raw sugar could negatively impact small local businesses such as bakers. In contrast, imported baked goods were not proposed to be subject to the tax, potentially creating disadvantage for local businesses.

This concern will be considered further as the consultation feedback is analysed, and we refine the policy direction. Options may be available to help us advance the policy objective to reduce sugar consumption, without disadvantaging local businesses. I’m certain we will be able to find the right balance to promote healthier eating among our residents.

We have to consider all the feedback in full, Mr Speaker. For now, I just want the public to be aware that we have listened to the discussion, and are using the feedback to develop and refine the policy options to implement a sugar tax that is feasible and meaningful to our local context.

Mr Speaker, We are very pleased with the extensive feedback and public discussion instigated by this consultation process and will come back with more information by the next Parliamentary Term.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

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Comments (11)

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  1. aceboy says:

    KFC tax coming? How about a tax on starchy foods? How about a tax on really large people who simply abuse food?

    • hillbilly fred says:

      how about they tax STUPID,IGNORANCE and HOT AIR for lords sake there is plenty of that around

  2. ImJustSayin says:

    So all the health nuts support the tax. Wait until the cooking oil tax comes. You can’t put all your faith in surveys. We have to be careful in allowing government to become big brother, especially when they start to legislate behavior.

  3. Cow Polly says:

    345 responses does not a majority make. I looked at the questionnaire and nowhere did it say, are you in favour of a sugar tax yes/no.

    If the purpose of this sugar tax is to raise money in the Government coffers, fair enough but if it seriously is about health, then the focus should be on diet and exercise not exclusively on sugar. I don’t need Government to penalize me for my sweet tooth when I exercise, go for regular dental checkups and annual doctors visits which reveal my sugar levels are just above the accepted lower range.

  4. Reuben says:

    I answered the questions and found them to be worded in such a way as it was hard to be negative so these so called results are unsurprising.

  5. Miguelito says:

    No support at all from me.

  6. Toodle-oo says:

    With 52% out of 345 respondents claiming to have said ‘yes’ to a question that supposedly wasn’t even on the survey makes this entire ‘consultation process’ have as much legitimacy as the SSM referendum .

    Once every month or so I buy a 1lb bag of Demerara sugar for my coffee. I’m on a minimal fixed income and if the price of it goes from $2.89 to $6+ I’m not going to be happy .

    All this is is a money grab by a broke government and nothing else .
    If it was a bunch of smug,brainless health freaks who were the majority of the ‘yes’ answer I hope you like it when your gym memberships go up $200% because of a VAT/services tax and the duty on your bicycles and workout clothes triples. It’ll come eventually .

  7. Pat E says:

    Reuben, you are 100% correct. The questions were written in such a way that anyone could slant the results to make it appear that people were in favour. This is a total money grab – nothing else. I listened to Kim Wilson today in the house and I, like you, am not surprised with the “results”. Shame shame shame on the PLP.

  8. Imjustsaying says:

    Human growth hormone triggers the release of large amounts of free fatty acids into the blood. The free fatty acids, in turn, interfere with the uptake of glucose, or blood sugar, into cells, and the body attempts to compensate by producing more insulin. Insulin aides glucose uptake into cells, but as the body continues to release large amounts of insulin, the cells become resistant to it. Hence the insulin resistance. It’s not just sugar.

  9. Imjustsaying says:

    People need to wake up, all those who support this tax. Don’t look for government to take care of you. You need to take care of yourself. The government are using this to generate revenue and appease the insurance companies, they don’t have any interest in your health. In the long run it will kill the small mom & pop bakeries. A $3 donut will cost almost double. There are so many foods that contain chemicals (GMO) that are slowly killing you. Foods that have a shelf life of 30 days for example.

  10. Y-Gurl says:

    How about a fried chicken tax

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