Edition 1429
24 June 2017
Edition: 1429

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Government prepares “smarter” sugar tax revamp

by TPN/PA, in News · 15-06-2017 12:38:00 · 0 Comments

Taxes on fizzy drinks in Portugal are to be overhauled to penalise those that are the most unhealthy, and the Government is also considering taxing food with high levels of salt or saturated fat.

Government prepares “smarter” sugar tax revamp

In an interview with Lusa News Agency, Health Minister Adalberto Campos Fernandes said he was working with the Ministry of Finance and Industry to introduce a new “smarter” tax on sugary drinks.
“I believe we have the right conditions so that the next State Budget can take an innovative step”, he said, offering assurances that the “objective is to protect public health, but always respecting fiscal reasonability”.
Fernandes explained that the idea is to redesign the taxation process so that it is “more conducive to healthier consumer behaviour”.
Asked if the idea is to make what is unhealthy more expensive, the minister confirmed that “that can be the only way”.
“It should become easier and cheaper to buy healthy products. And more expensive and penalising to buy products that are not healthy. We are talking about protecting the interests of companies from the point of view of their industrial activity, but also low-income populations that cannot be harmed by a very extreme approach”, he said.
Fernandes was pleased with the results of this year’s introduction of the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, which since February has led to a 72 percent drop in the consumption of those beverages.
On top of the money raised from the tax, which contributes to the sustainability of the National Health Service (SNS), the minister said the important thing is the effect on people’s health, which “will likely be visible within half-dozen years”.
“It has even changed the attitude of manufacturers, raised awareness among the population, and the effects on consumption are far more important from the point of view of preventing obesity and diabetes than the €80, €90 or €100 million”, he said.
As for charging a similar tax on foods, Fernandes said so-called “junk food” will be a priority target.
“If we lived in an ideal world, what is classically recognised by all of us as junk food, high-calorie, high in saturated salt and fat, would clearly be our top priority”.
Among additional measures already in place, Campos Fernandes recalled the introduction of vegetarian menus in schools and restrictions on some high-calorie foods in the automatic vending machines at SNS hospitals.
“We will certainly be more aggressive in 2018”, he promised, noting that measures are always taken and monitored by industry representatives.

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Edition 1429
24 June 2017
Edition: 1429

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter