Bri­tain pub­lishes draft sugar tax

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Bri­tain moved for­ward with its planned sugar tax yes­ter­day, pub­lish­ing draft leg­is­la­tion con­firm­ing a two-band levy for sugar-added soft drinks aimed at fight­ing obesity.

In opt­ing for a sugar tax, Bri­tain joins Bel­gium, France, Hun­gary and Mex­ico, all of which have im­posed some form of tax on drinks with added sugar. Bri­tain’s tax, an­nounced in March, is due to come into force in April 2018, giv­ing sell­ers of soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola Euro­pean Part­ners and Britvic, time to reduce sugar in their prod­ucts. The com­pa­nies, which sell Co­caCola and Pep­siCo drinks re­spec­tively, have al­ready been promoting no-sugar drinks such as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Pepsi Max cherry, which would be ex­empt from the tax.

The Bri­tish levy has two thresh­olds-one of 18 pence per litre on soft drinks with more than 5 grams of sugar per 100 ml and one of 24 pence per litre on those with more than 8 grams per 100 ml. The draft was pub­lished on Mon­day by HM Rev­enue & Cus­toms as part of an overview of leg­isla­tive changes to tax law the govern­ment plans to in­tro­duce in its fi­nance bill for 2017.

The govern­ment has said it ex­pects the levy to raise 520 mil­lion pounds ($661.5 mil­lion) in the first year. Sugar taxes have tended to fo­cus on fizzy soft drinks, as health cam­paign­ers ar­gue they are a source of empty calo­ries. Yet the whole pack­aged food in­dus­try has been work­ing to make its prod­ucts health­ier as con­sumers in­creas­ingly opt for fresher foods. Nes­tle ear­lier this month said it had found a way to po­ten­tially reduce sugar in choco­late by up to 40 per­cent with­out af­fect­ing the taste. As a whole, the in­dus­try op­poses spe­cial taxes on food or drinks, ar­gu­ing that they do not work and dis­pro­por­tion­ately hurt poorer peo­ple.

“Ev­i­dence world­wide does not sug­gest that taxes of this sort have any im­pact on levels of obesity,” Gavin Part­ing­ton, di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Bri­tish Soft Drinks As­so­ci­a­tion, said in a state­ment, adding that the group would con­tinue to work with UK Trea­sury of­fi­cials dur­ing the process of im­ple­men­ta­tion. — Reuters

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