The Finnish government has scrapped a plan to replace the current tax on sweets with a tax on sugar, stressing that such measure would be difficult to implement and its health impact is not clear.
The idea for a sugar tax was tabled by the National Institute for Health and Wellness (THL) – a research and development institute under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health – to replace the existing excise duty on sweets, which has been abolished with effect as of January 2017 after the European Commission suggested it could constitute unlawful state aid.
The consequent loss of revenues has forced some government officials to look for other fiscal measures, making clear that the main reason behind a sugar tax would be economical.
However, the Ministry of Finance itself has ruled out this option. Through Merja Sandell, it stressed that a sugar tax “would be a bureaucratic burden” and difficult to put in place. Another senior official said it will not lead to the desired health effects.
The full article is available (in Swedish) here.
Following the presentation of Public Health’s England (PHE) report “Sugar Reduction – The Evidence for Action” at the House of Common, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Cameron has stressed again that there is no intention to adopt a tax on sugar.
The report was presented to the House of Commons Health Committee on Tuesday 20 October 2015 by Dr. Alison Tedstone, PHE director of diet and obesity. It was commissioned by the government in order to evaluate the best options to reduce sugar consumption in the country. As fifth recommended action, the report suggests a sugar tax of a minimum of 10-20% on products with high sugar content, claiming that available evidence has shown that fiscal measures are effective. However, Dr Tedstone herself admitted that it was unclear how transitory the tax effect would be due to the lack of long-term data.
British chef Jamie Oliver also participated in the hearing in the Committee, calling for the adoption of a 20% tax on sugar drinks. His proposal was recently strongly criticized by Tim Martin, Chairman of Wetherspoon, who argued that such a tax would cost pubs millions of pounds.
At the end of September 2015, responding to Oliver’s petition for the introduction of a ‘soda-tax’, the UK government had stated that it had no such plans. PM David Cameron had ruled out the fiscal measure as he reportedly saw it as a “blunt weapon” that would hit low-income families. “The Prime Minister’s view remains that he doesn’t see a need for a tax on sugar“, confirmed a source close to him on Tuesday.
On Monday 21 September 2015, the UK government has responded to the petition launched by the well-known chef Jamie Oliver, who is campaigning for the introduction of a ‘soda tax’ as a solution for the problem of obesity. In its response, the government states that is not willing to introduce taxes that will increase “the cost of living” and negatively affect “UK productivity and economic growth”. The response also stresses that “the causes of obesity are complex” and “will require a broad and comprehensive approach” and therefore the administration is developing a strategy on childhood obesity that will take into account all of these factors.
The full statement by the UK Government can be found here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106651.