Friday 9 December 2016

Sugar tax 'will add €60 to family's grocery bill and won't stop obesity'

Published 08/08/2016 | 02:30

A sugar tax would add €60 to a family’s annual grocery bill and do little to solve the country’s obesity problem, businesses have claimed. Stock Image
A sugar tax would add €60 to a family’s annual grocery bill and do little to solve the country’s obesity problem, businesses have claimed. Stock Image

A sugar tax would add €60 to a family's annual grocery bill and do little to solve the country's obesity problem, businesses have claimed.

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The drinks industry is ramping up its opposition to a new tax on sugary drinks, which it is widely expected will be included in Budget 2017.

The Irish Beverage Council (IBC), which represents companies that produce, distribute and market soft drinks, juices, bottled waters and sports and energy drinks in Ireland, will today publish an analysis of the impact of a possible sugar tax.

'Sugar Tax: All Cost, No Benefit' says the mooted 10c charge on a standard soft drink would cost companies sales worth approximately €60m per year and ultimately lose €35m in revenue to the Exchequer.

It argues that despite having been introduced in a number of countries, sugar taxes had never achieved public-health objectives of reducing the consumption of sugar or decreasing levels of obesity and related diseases.

IBC director Kevin McPartland said a sugar tax was "populist" without any evidence that it actually worked.

He continued: "Industry has a crucial role to play in tackling the serious obesity problem in Ireland.

"International experience proves beyond any doubt that sugar tax is singularly ineffective."

The Programme for Government commits to creating a new tax on sugar-sweetened drinks in order to help fund cuts to the Universal Social Charge.

The Department of Finance estimates that the tax could yield €100m a year.

The IBC also claims that a new tax would send shoppers across the Border. It claims that the State would lose out on considerable tax revenues.

Mr McPartland said: "Some say a sugar tax should be introduced even if it does nothing to reduce levels of obesity, as it would create revenue to fund public health initiatives.

He added: "Even if we ignore the fact that Department of Finance officials have ruled out such an approach, the revenue lost to cross-border trade and the potential cost of lost jobs in the Irish soft drinks sector would greatly reduce and possibly even eliminate the net gain to the Exchequer."

Irish Independent

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