In a country reported to have a high incidence rate of non communicable diseases one of the issues causing Bajan tongues to wag violently is the increase in the excise tax on ‘sweet drinks’. During last month’s budget presentation Prime Minister Mia Mottley decreed that effective 1 April 2022 (today) the excise tax on sweet drinks increases by 20%.
On the face of it one would have assumed the imposition of a sin tax in the prevailing circumstances should be accepted for what it is. Instead many Bajans are expressing that it is a revenue grab instead of part of a holistic approach to tackling the health of the nation.
It seems ridiculous any government should have to legislate to encourage individuals to take responsibility for health decisions, such is the reality; people have to be protected from themselves. The government needs to tax citizens to ensure a balanced budget and at the same time implement effective policies to ensure there is a seamless relationship between achieving financial and non financial targets. Bad decisions taken by SOME Barbadians ultimately effect ALL Barbadians in the pockets.
Can we agree a national debate promoting a healthy lifestyle given the high incidence of NCDs is a good thing? The ‘proposed’ increase in the price of sweet drinks has triggered a national discussion, mission achieved. The blogmaster deliberately used the word proposed because a feature of the Mottley government has been to back out or delay a few decisions taken. Latest example is the postponement of breathalyzer testing because a metered taxi rate system needs to be implemented. You simply cannot make this stuff up.
There is voluminous information to support the conclusion sweet drinks have a high calorific content and therefore high consumption by individuals is likely to negatively impact ones health. The evidence is apparent that the current health trajectory Barbados is on must be interrupted. While we jabber away money must be found to pay for lifestyle choices made by Barbadians. If we want to drink sweet drinks and exhale smoke from our nostrils like Portvale factory, we must pay for it. A good government has to provide leadership that redounds to the benefit of the nation. There are numerous risk factors to manage as it relates to a healthy lifestylke, it is established sweet drinks contribute negatively to the risk factors associated with NCDs.
The blogmaster looks forward to those in the public and private sector charged with healthcare working together to implement effective measures to save Barbadians from themselves.
See relevant link:
Sugary Drinks Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health