Dunkley: Sugar Tax “Is A Tax Grab For The PLP”

February 3, 2020

“In the 16 months since the inception of the sugar tax no significant health related initiatives have been launched, the government is unable to provide a dollar amount spent on the promised programs, but over $5.4 million dollars has been raised through increased taxation,” OBA Michael Dunkley said.

Mr. Dunkley said, “In Parliament on Friday I asked questions of the Finance Minister, Hon. Curtis Dickinson, in regards to the amount raised since the inception of Sugar Tax on October 1st 2018 and the increase in government spending focusing on health education and health related initiatives.

The exchange in the House of Assembly on Friday about the Sugar Tax

“The Minister, in answering the questions, informed the House that since its inception over $5.4 million dollars has been raised through the increase in duty on certain sugary items; first at 50% and then increased to 75% in April 2019. This is a significant amount of money that has been raised by taxing food items and increasing the cost of foodstuffs on the island.

  • “When asked how much the Sugar Tax had contributed to the increase cost of food and the cost of living the Minister remarked that this would be engaging in speculation.
  • “When asked if he believed the Sugar Tax is a regressive and unfair tax the Minister said he had not thought about it.
  • “When asked to provide details of the increase in government spending, including the specific allocation to health, education and related areas that the sugar tax revenue has facilitated since its implementation the Minister replied that funding was not allocated to sugar tax health related programs in 2018-19 and, it appears, the same goes for 2019-2020.

“So, in the 16 months since the inception of the sugar tax no significant health related initiatives have been launched, the government is unable to provide a dollar amount spent on the promised programs but over $5.4 million dollars has been raised through increased taxation!

“This is not putting Bermudians first!

“Then, in a weak attempt to show the tax is working, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health use dated information, which they have taken out of context, showing that sugary drink consumption has declined since 2014.

“While it is correct that sugary drink consumption has declined, the sugar tax only came into effect in October 2018 so using this study is not a reinforcement of this government policy!

“The consumption of sugary drinks in Bermuda, and in other countries such as the US and Canada, has decreased, and further back than 2014, but it is a very difficult argument to make that it is due to a sugar tax, especially a tax that only came into effect in 2018.

“In Canada soft drink sales have decreased as far back as 2004 when between that year and 2015 per capita soft drink sales have fallen 27%.

“And what happened to Canada’s BMI over that time?

“Adult BMI increased, so the evidence contradicts claims that a reduction in soda consumption will cause a decline in BMI. [Source “Sweet Nothing” November 2017].

“This study also shows that consumers make decisions based on behavioral, biological, societal and geographic reasons thus taxation, even at this very high level, will not be effective in changing food purchase choices.

“Here in Bermuda the Sugar Tax has proven to be regressive; lower income families will spend a greater portion of their income on food, and also an unfair tax; it punishes the healthy for having an occasional soda, chocolate bar or using protein powder.

“Sadly, a well-intentioned initiative to reduce obesity has to date only resulted in a tax grab for the PLP while Bermudians have been burdened with increased taxation by the government in many areas, a declining economy and a lack of opportunity.

“Studies have shown there are much more effective ways to tackle obesity such as portion control, reformulation, high calorie food availability, weight management programs, parental education and school curriculum to name a few.“

We asked the Government for a response, and will update if able.

Update 1.22pm: The Government responded, and you can read that in full here.

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Comments (28)

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  1. Frank says:

    Why does he do this to himself every time?

    • bluenose says:

      What, ask pertinent questions?

      • Onion Juice says:

        So what was ya stance on land grab?
        Go lay down.

        • sandgrownan says:

          A land grab? Sounds like you have inside knowledge that the COI has a predetermined outcome. We shouldn’t be so surprised.

          The PLP aren’t about equality, they’re about “getting even”.

        • Toodle-oo says:

          What land grabs are you referring to ?
          And please don’t cite an example which involved a Government CPO in which the land owners were compensated at or above the then values. Waiting .. tic toc

    • Idiot says:

      Because he can’t stand that he is irrelevant! Michael has a super ego that cannot understand why he lost the largest defeat in election history!

  2. watching says:

    Is he speaking as an MP, or as the owner of Dunkley’s Dairy?
    I would think the Shadow Finance or Shadow Health spokesman would speak to this? Or the opposition leader?
    Why does it appear Mr. Dunkley won’t retreat and allow his colleagues to take a front seat?

    • Dick Francis says:

      Does, ‘the Sandman’ Zane speak for himself or his construction company?

    • wahoo says:

      You would like that wouldn’t you? He is doing his job and is good at it and his colleagues have plenty to say on all aspects of critiquing this ridiculous plp government.

    • bluenose says:

      Why should he not ask questions in this respect? Care to answer his concerns, or would you rather just shoot the messenger?

    • trump supporter says:

      Does the premier speak for himself? Or for the dr.

  3. Cow Polly says:

    Government needs to release a list of all goods now included under the sugar tax and what the level of sugar is in those goods. It also needs to say who approves products for the sugar tax.
    It seems to me that the sugar tax is the biggest single contributor to a rise in the cost of living in regards to groceries.

  4. I effing hate taxes.
    I need a govt. that does what I need and no more….I am tired of taxes …give you money for what?!?

  5. Kim Smith says:

    Do any other countries have a sugar tax?

  6. sandgrownan says:

    In before those with Dunkley Derangement Syndrome attack the messenger rather than refute the message.

    The issue is this. Curtis is not a stupid man, but he is constrained by the stupidity of the PLP and it’s empty suit Premier. He knows the country is broke, and he knows what the solution is – but he’s stuck to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Dunkley is exactly correct, the sugar tax is nothing more than a tax grab wrapped up in the fancy suit of healthy eating.

    This is of course the underlying reason for change in the way we pay for healthcare. It’s a cash grab. From the same clowns who could organise a bus schedule in 17 years.

    Expect more shuffling of the tax code, expect the cost of living to continue to rise. You wont see the two uneeded Ministers without portfolio go, you wont see Civil Service Reform, you wont see the Communications Department go, and a reduction in consultants. Just more spend, and more tax. It really is all he can do at this point.

    • Cow Polly says:

      Yup. totally agree.

    • Unbelievable says:

      I would agree. I mean, when you think about it….this country has so much debt that can’t be paid off, at this point, the BANKS that we owe to are more powerful than us. If they wanted to pull the note on the debt they could. The banks that we owe to are the final say-so on whether this country succeeds or not. Not the PLP.

      Meanwhile we have useless Govt departments (casino commission anyone?) and we are paying for stupid appeals to the Privy Council over same sex marriage and whatever else we are paying for that serves no purpose except to falsely satisfy the PLP base.

      2.5 years into this new PLP and we are NO CLOSER to any form of stabilisation. It feels like the bottom of cliff is in view.

      24-11. Yay go team.

  7. THE HEAD OF ____ rises yet again!!
    Repeatedly, adding any unnecessary input!
    Actions have definitely been carried out in most negative ways.
    Where is the money from $190million for Bermuda’s people.
    That is much more meaningful than SUGAR TAX!!
    Stop this phoniness!
    Your behaviours are quite clear from 2012 – 2017!!

  8. Equilibrium says:

    Scenario: I Put in a FULL days’s Labored work, Daily. Everyday. I drink a lot of Water. I get Tired of water after a while. Guess what happens next. Punishment with the SUGAR TAX!
    You have to replace salts and sugars from sweat. My Health is fine. I am active. I have NOT decreased my limited
    Sugar intake. Why are you punishing Hard-Working people like me. Stop Stealing!
    I am not in an Office or Car all day not burning many calories like certain people making certain tax laws.
    Education in School should have BEEN Working, Health Care should have BEEN working.
    The Common People of Bermuda need their 5 million dollars back! Since the start, I called this Money grab a complete
    Abolish this stupid Sugar tax, the Bus shortage, the one day trash collection with Rat infestation Island-wide.
    You are hurting this Island by your Patchwork Policies. Two years on we’re still talking the same talk. Obviously we don’t
    Have people working in our favor. Thank You.

  9. imjustsaying says:

    Regardless of his political persuasion or his business interest he is correct. So PLP die hearts take a step back and look at the message not the messenger.

  10. Poindexter93 says:

    Being asked to pay $4.10 for a standard size, common candy bar at a gas station, is a troubling and disgusting sign of many things. Greed, on behalf of the owner, and incompetence on behalf of the government. Paying $2.75 for a can of soda. When the candy bar and soda are each probably a cost of $0.50 wholesale. All this for $5 million? How about shut down a golf course and build affordable homes, parks for activities, game arcades, go-karting etc. That would be far more beneficial and generate more money.

  11. Paulo says:

    Sugar tax is like doubling the price on a barrel of oil, then complain electricity cost has increased. Mmmmm???

  12. wahoo says:

    How about educate people about sugar and sugar level management? You can cut way back on sugar very easily and you will feel the effect very quickly.