Bar­ba­dos’ Min­istry of Health dis­misses “fat tax” sug­ges­tion

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

There will be no “fat tax” in Bar­ba­dos.

That po­si­tion has been made clear by the coun­try’s Min­istry of Health fol­low­ing the sug­ges­tion by a univer­sity lec­turer at one of the re­cent min­istry-or­ga­nized town hall meet­ings be­ing held to dis­cuss the fi­nanc­ing of health­care. The min­istry says a “fat tax” would be dis­crim­i­na­tory.

Post-grad­u­ate lec­turer in health sci­ences, Dr Len­nox Sealy, pro­posed last Tues­day night that a spe­cial tax be im­posed on fat and grossly over­weight peo­ple in the is­land. He made the call against the back­ground of govern­ment spend­ing around BDS$732 mil­lion (US$366 mil­lion) in health­care ev­ery year, with much of it go­ing to treat peo­ple with ill­nesses in which un­healthy eat­ing habits play a role.Dr Sealy said over­weight and obese peo­ple should be hit in the pock­ets, for not main­tain­ing a healthy weight.

“I think we’re try­ing to be too po­lit­i­cally cor­rect and we’re only putting the tax on the sweet drink,” he said at the time, re­fer­ring to the 10 per cent ex­cise tax on sweet­ened bev­er­ages such as car­bon­ated soft drinks, juice drinks, fruit juices and sports drinks, which took ef­fect last Au­gust. “Put the fat tax on the peo­ple.”

But in a state­ment re­leased at an­other one of the town hall meet­ings on Tues­day night, the Min­istry of Health said while it ap­pre­ci­ated the com­ments and con­tri­bu­tions be­ing made by the pub­lic on ad­dress­ing health­care fi­nanc­ing in Bar­ba­dos, it did not sup­port the con­cept of a “fat tax” as any ap­proach to deal­ing with the is­sue.

“Such a tax would be dis­crim­i­na­tory and is con­trary to the prin­ci­ples of uni­ver­sal health cov­er­age which ad­vo­cate for equal ac­cess to health­care ser­vices, re­gard­less of health, so­cial or eco­nomic sta­tus,” it said.

The idea had re­ceived some sup­port, but some in the fit­ness and med­i­cal fields re­jected it.

A univer­sity lec­turer had sug­gested that over­weight and obese peo­ple

should pay a “fat tax” for their un­healthy eat­ing habits.

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