Govt urged to impose taxes on SSBs as risk factors for obesity, diabetes and cardio vascular diseases

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The A4H, Coalition has organized the national stakeholders conference on the implementations of food related health taxes in Ghana with the call on key players in the Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs)sector to review international and local evidence on the effectiveness of SSB taxes in reducing sugar consumption to improve public health.

In addition, the program will help identify and discuss challenges, opportunities and strategies for the effective implementation of the policy in Ghana and foster also collaboration and improve among government bodies, public health organizations, private sector and civil society in the implementation of the policy.

Speaking on the theme, “Taxes Build Nations: Evidence Informed Health Informed Health Taxes Save Lives” in Accra, Tax expert at the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Mr. Alex Kombat said health taxes are levied on products that have negative public health impact particularly drinks, sugar sweetened beverages, alcoholic beverages among others.

He said it is the responsibility of governments to protect the citizenry against any harmful products and however explained that the means of addressing it is through the imposition of health taxes on such products, adding that health taxes is geared towards correcting markets failures for negatives externalities and internalities.

Mr. Kombat said the implementation of the SSB tax is backed by Excise Duty (Amendment) Act. 2023 (1093) now consolidated into Excise Duty (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2023 (Act 1108) which commenced on the 15th April, 2023.

Highlighting some challenges of implementing the SSB tax, he mentioned low nationwide sensitization, inability to get small and medium producers and importers to pay the tax and affix the stamps, food and beverages producers be educated, tax smuggling of SSBs and inadequate training of Customs staff.

He therefore recommended that the tax be based on sugar content and GRA must engage industry players on capacity building for the excise unit, inadequate equipment and logistics among others must be provided for effective administrative works.

For his part, Mr. Austine Iraoya, an Economist and a Researcher said tax on SSBs have impacted through an increase in retail prices creating public awareness of the negative health effect of the consumption of the SSBs of the citizenry.

He added that the health outcome leads to overweight, type two diabetes, tooth decay, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, stroke and obesity.

Prof. Amos Laar of the Public Health Nutrition, University of Ghana said the Ghanaian soft drink market value was estimated to be about 1.9 billion litres or $2.17 billion USD in 2021 adding that in the same year, the per capita consumption was estimated to be 51.2 litres as data from the survey involving 7,7943 residents of Ghana indicates that 33% of Ghanaians drink SSBs multiple times a week.

Report by Ben LARYEA

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