Health Minister’s Statement On Sugar Tax

June 8, 2018

Sugar and sugar sweetened items will become more expensive and “that the increase will be sufficient to trigger greater awareness,” and as some local businesses are concerned that taxing sugar will make their goods more expensive than imported goods, the Government “proposes to amend the Bill to allow for local preparers of foodstuffs to apply for concessionary rates.”

This was from Minister of Health Kim Wilson as she delivered a brief in thee House of Assembly today [June 8] on Customs tariff amendment bill on sugar tax.

“The amendments introduced today propose to begin the new duty rates on the said items at 50% duty on 1st October 2018, and increased them to 75% in the next fiscal year from 1st April 2019. This will allow businesses to adjust and prepare for the new tariffs,” Minister Wilson said.

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Minister Wilson said, “The consultation found that there was broadest support for the tax to be introduced at 75% duty on the suggested items. However, it is not expected that there will be a 75% mark up in retail prices, even when the full duty is in place. It is projected that retail prices could increase 20 to 50% for the affected items, though this will depend on individual businesses.

“Locally-made foods such as fudge [almost 100% sugar] will be impacted and may increase 50% at retail. Baked items with lots of icing and sugar-based fillings will be impacted and may increase 15% at retail. Items like bread will be impacted less because sugar is proportionally a minor ingredient and may only increase 5% at retail or less.

“The bottom line is that sugar and sugar sweetened items will become more expensive at retail and that the increase will be sufficient to trigger greater awareness and adoption of healthier buying habits. The Department of Health intends to leverage this awareness and opportunity to promote healthier eating.

“It is estimated that in a full year of 75% duty rates, an additional amount of $10 million could be raised from the sugar tax, although this is dependent on volume of imports, etc. As the Government has indicated in the Budget Statement the additional revenue collected from the sugar tax will be earmarked for expanded, health promotion and disease prevention activities to encourage healthy lifestyles

“The consultation feedback highlighted an inconsistency in including diet sodas and iced teas in the sugar tax. The Bill tabled excluded diet iced teas, but had not accommodated for diet sodas; this was due to the existing tariff code structure.

“However, we have since been able to work a solution and will be proposing an amendment that will exclude diet sodas from the increased duty of the sugar tax. While the Ministry of Health does not support consumption of diet sodas, we agree with the principle that it does not make sense to apply a “sugar tax” to items with no sugar.

“The consultation process also noted that local businesses are concerned that taxing sugar will make it more expensive for them to do business as their goods will be more expensive than imported goods. Naturally, we don’t want to unintentionally disadvantage local businesses.

“While we hope this can be seen as an opportunity for local businesses to seek alternative business models that will promote healthier food options, rather than encouraging more of the same unhealthy practices that are making us sick and costing us greatly, we recognize that local producers of foodstuffs should not be disadvantaged compared to imported products.

“Accordingly, Mr Speaker, we propose to amend the Bill to allow for local preparers of foodstuffs to apply for concessionary rates from the Minister of Finance under the existing provisions for commercial manufacturers of goods.

“Furthermore, we will continue to review the tariff codes to consider if imported baked goods can be subject to the sugar tax in future phases.

“Lastly, the consultation feedback also noted the inconsistency in excluding chocolate from the sugar tax. While we have not been able to accommodate this at this time, we will seek to make further amendments to the tariff code in order to apply the 75% duty to chocolate in due course, in the same manner as other confectionery items.

“But as we phase in further items to be subjected to the sugar tax, we will also monitor consumption levels through health surveys and imports. And our health surveys such as STEPS will continue to monitor overweight and obesity to evaluate whether our interventions are making the difference we need.

“Just like tobacco use decreased from 22% in 1999 before smoking was banned in public places, to now 13%; so we hope to see improvements in reduced consumption of sugary drinks and reduced obesity and lifestyle diseases in the long run.”

The full statement follows below [PDF here]:

click here Bermuda sugar tax

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Comments (29)

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  1. Wahoo says:

    Still kicking the health can when we know that this should really come under finance. This govt makes me eel bye! They think we are dopey.

  2. Rocky5 says:

    Govt. will have to increase Financial Assistance so poor Bermudians can afford heavily taxed sugary foods…

  3. Point boy says:

    If someone wants a soda or fudge they will STILL pay for it. It’s just plain to see, money grabbing!

    They do it every other year on tobacco. Twenty years ago you could buy a pack of cigarettes for $4.50 fast forward too today, it’s $15.50 a pack. What’s gonna happen to the price of a single can of soda in ten years? $5.00??

  4. spider says:

    Instead of actively marketing the dangers of sugar government has co-opted for the easiest approach which ends up raising the cost of living in Bermuda. The lesson learned will be don’t buy sugary items because they are expensive. Not because they are unhealthy Those who can myself included will still purchase a donut occasionally or in the summer most definitely ice cream or sherbert. Seriously who won’t. Our spoiled kids will only ask mommy or daddy for more money how many parents have the energy to fight their kids every day. However if you teach kids and adults instead of whining about it people will listen and make their own choices without harming businesses that cater to simple pleasures

  5. cpm says:

    PLP did the cement people now they want to target Barritts and Dunkleys

  6. Question says:

    So how long will it be before they start complaining about the cost of living?

    • Toodle-oo says:

      As they have already shown they won’t be able to make the connection .

  7. Hrumph says:

    Demonizing soft drinks, not being consistent with sugar being taxed on chocolate or on donuts, cakes and snow cones and lemonade home made. Lady gone cray cray.this is no longer a health thing, but a targeted tax grab.

  8. MB says:

    It should actually be a crime to drink a can of soda And the 10 teaspoons of sugar in it.
    Sorry…govt needs to pick on someone to make needed revenue to pay off debt and fix buses and schools and services.
    Sugar i am fine with. Ditto airbnb.

    • aceboy says:

      Lol. You think THAT is what they plan on spending tax revenues on? How naive can you be?

    • aceboy says:

      Should it be a crime to book an AirBNB?

  9. Keepin' it Real!..4Real! says:

    Biggest bunch of malarkey I’ve ever heard…

  10. nabba jabba says:

    I realise necessative taxation however I also see incongruence in things like larger work force and less work actually getting done .
    New departments created that actually cause more confusion and need for others.
    As a tax payer I require streamlined function and less taxation.For instance…I still pay the taxation for two day trash pick up but only see my trash picked up once a week…this being the case I require to pay for only one day pick up….and fully request and do require a refund back on my taxes for that day 48 weeks a year untill you resume this pick up.
    This is the truth ovit…
    I am seeing rats on the carraigeway everywhere I look…cars are hitting them on the roads….there are so many !
    For an MP to cause this third world embarrassment is unacceptable!

  11. Tide watcher says:

    Total B.S.
    How much revenue to they expect from this? Its useless taxation. PLP, get your head out of the clouds.

  12. Real Deal says:

    I think it is mostly females that are over weight for the most part.

  13. Infidelguy says:

    This will only make it more expensive for people to buy the junk foods that they sometimes like to indulge in (or overindulge in) from time to time. In my opinion it will not produce the results the government is trying to achieve such as reducing the incidence of Type II Diabetes, Obesity, Cancers etc. They would be better off investing in a public education campaign promoting the benefits of healthier eating and regular exercise; and maybe consider subsidizing some of the costs for the purchase of healthier foods.

    Are we now going to see a line item on the Bermuda Customs Form for sugary items? Will I be taxed 50% or 75% if I decided bring back a few bags of Halloween candy in my carry-on bag on my return from overseas? Candy, like many other items in this country, is already too expensive and retailers hike their prices during Halloween.

    Is this this tax really about a genuine concern of the health of individuals in this country, or is it just a cover story for the introduction of a new source of revenue for the government?

  14. Pat E says:

    Nothing said in the House of Assembly yesterday made any of this any better. This is a total money grab and NOTHING else. In an effort to make mitigate the massive cost increase to local bakers, etc, all of a sudden a bureaucratic process has been thrown together to allow for exemptions – total farce.

    Why not impose taxes and sanctions on people who are overweight and unhealthy because of their own life choices?

    Stand by for the price of everything at grocery stores to continue to increase. Nothing will decrease in price. This sugar tax will rank up there with once a week garbage pick up. Although once a week garbage pick up is fine for single people I suppose.

    • Paul says:

      The sugar tax is the dopiest thing the P.L.P have ever done, what is more serious to our health is the RATS all over this Island…

  15. Athena says:

    Way past time the tax payer started figuring out how much all the “seat warmers” in Government and CS are costing us. We are supporting salaries and services which are not giving value for money.

    If this is going to continue then we need to revisit that government and CS pensions move from defined benefit to defined contribution based asap.

    This tax is going to have no real effect on the populations health status at all. Just funding to keep a far too large government vehicle for the size of our population running.

  16. aceboy says:

    This is completely ridiculous and smacks of nanny state bs.

    I don’t want or need a govt telling me what to eat or not.

    Just a cash grab and an attempt to even scores, despite PLP pledges to the contrary.

    What is next?

    • Paul says:

      I agree,the health minister has made a huge mistake with this sugar tax.

  17. upset voter says:

    Just a tax on the poor people and you don’t see them charging more money to the Banks and International Business! so dumb!

  18. Question says:

    It’s odd that the Health Minister failed to talk about this week’s increase in MRI and diagnostic imaging fees.

    That would explain some of the people whooping it up at the PLP victory party this week. Higher imaging fees from their friends in government.

    Give it a month or two, they’ll be loudly blaming insurance companies for higher health costs.

    Follow the money.

  19. cpm says:

    We had 2 trash pick ups a week and Wednesday for a slack day or furniture pick up
    Now we have 1 pick up and daily queues at Tynes Bay with a smaller population to cover
    The rodent population is taking over very rapidly
    Well done Burch and the plp

  20. PANGAEA says:

    Bermuda Is in no position to increase the tax burden on its people.

    The need is to increase overseas sources of revenue and reduce the waste.

    We are either open for business or we are not.

    How about many Harbor nights !

    Our window of opportunity is small as our hurricane and winter season reduce economic opportunities.

    The Bermuda Covernment is making a big mistake as there are many other avenues which have not been explored as they take the easy way out.

    The Bermuda Covernment needs to increase its international and tourist business and pamper those we already have here , this can only do that by MARKETING and to do that the need all the help they can get from the OPPOSITION who have much wisdom to bring to the table, and bring more capital into the country and not bleed the people for what little they have here.

    A devided people and taxation through history destroys nations and eroded their people.

    ” Let them eat Cake ” QE 1

    Surely they must realize that sugar is not the main cause of obesity, comfort foods , red meat and chicken are loaded with fat which goes directy in to the blood stream , carbohydrates can cause equaly the same amount of physical damage , as the silent killer the HEART ATACK signals the begining of the end.

    It has often been said that some people are lazy, I take that as too lazy to exercise, even simple walking every evening can be very benificial.

    As many of you have previouse stated this tax has nothing to do with sugar and all to do with increase in taxation.

    My father once said ………….”You can not take the shirt of a naked man”.

  21. Cranberry says:

    This is basically a tax on the PLP supporters…

  22. Ride says:

    Consumption based taxes on non-luxury items always disproportionately affect the lower economic bracket of households.

    I do hope that this leads to better choices of importers. For example, currently on many shelves the coconut waters available have as much sugar added as soda. It is difficult to find a coconut water without added sugar. Just take a look at the coconut water gifted in the Bermuda Day race bags – a sporting event – so much sugar your could hardly taste the coconut.

  23. TGAOTU says:

    You PLP are parasites to our island. You put us in debt for 100 years, and you raise all our taxes and give us new ones, while raising your paychecks every time and giving your cousins n buddies in Works & Engineering all the jobs that overpay with 40 sick days. Well done at ruining our island. You parasites.

  24. A normal Guy says:

    To introduce this would be beneficial to moving forward to a healthier future for Bermudians. But, the leverage scale is being out weighed financially wouldn’t you think so? How about as well as these increasing prices, have the decrease of water, fruit, vegetables to actually influence this decision and balance the scale again?