Monday 5 December 2016

Bittersweet sugar tax due in April 2018

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan signalled that the tax will come in to coincide with the introduction of a similar levy in the UK and it is expected to follow the same model of calculation. Photo: PA
Finance Minister Michael Noonan signalled that the tax will come in to coincide with the introduction of a similar levy in the UK and it is expected to follow the same model of calculation. Photo: PA

The proposed sugar tax on fizzy drinks, which is to come into effect in April 2018, will be based on how strongly the beverage has been sweetened.

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Finance Minister Michael Noonan signalled that the tax will come in to coincide with the introduction of a similar levy in the UK and it is expected to follow the same model of calculation.

It would mean that the levy would start at drinks with total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 millilitres.

There would be a higher rate for more than 8 grams per 100 millilitres.

Mr Noonan, who launched a public consultation process on the tax yesterday, said: "I intended about a year ago to do it this year.

"I was looking at what they're doing in the UK and they're introducing it in January 2018.

"The supply lines are very connected between the UK and Ireland and very connected into Northern Ireland.

"The final straw was once Brexit came, I said we need to align the two taxes. I don't want boot-loads of soft drinks coming down from Newry," he told RTÉ's 'Drivetime'.

Minister for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy defended the levy as a measure aimed at reducing levels of obesity.

It is part of a series of public health measures which will get a kick-start of €5m this year to tackle obesity, lack of physical activity, smoking and sexual health, she said.

However, it has left a bitter taste in the mouths of soft drinks companies here. The Irish Beverage Council has reacted angrily to the April 2018 sugar tax announcement.

"We are extremely disappointed that the Minister for Finance continues to labour under the delusion that additional taxes on soft drinks will have any positive impact on obesity," said a spokesman.

The announcement also led to criticism from the Irish Heart Foundation's head of advocacy, Chris Macey because of the delay in its introduction.

He said: "The decision to postpone the introduction of a sugar-sweetened drinks levy to 2018, despite it being a cornerstone measure of the new national obesity strategy, suggests there is still no genuine cross-government commitment to tackling obesity.

"New figures released by the World Obesity Federation show there are now 54,280 obese, school-aged children in Ireland. They, and every other child in this country, have been badly let down in this Budget."

The Irish Dental Association wants money collected to be directed to oral health care.

Irish Independent

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