Push to increase South Africa’s sugar tax

Non-profit organisation, the Healthy Living Alliance (Heala), has asked Treasury to increase and expand South Africa’s sugar tax as the country deals with growing health issues.

The sugar tax – formally known as the ‘health promotion levy’ – was first introduced by Treasury in 2018. The levy is attached to sugary beverages which have been manufactured in or imported into South Africa.

Currently, the tax applies to carbonated beverages such as Coca-cola but Heala says that it wants the levy to be expanded to include fruit juices which have high sugar content.

The group is also lobbying for a general increase on the tax to 20% – the amount which was originally considered when the levy was first proposed.

“Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some cancers have reached crisis levels with some NCDs accounting for more than half of deaths in the country according to Statistics South Africa,” Heala said.

“A major contributor to NCDs is the consumption of unhealthy foods that contain excess sugar, salt and fats which affect obesity rates.

“Government needs to hold the unhealthy food and beverage industry accountable for their contribution to the burden of diseases that are crippling the healthcare system.”

The group added that a 20% increase in the health promotion levy could fill a R350 million hole in the country’s health budget and help address the growing deficit.

Read: Get ready for the taxman – Dawie Roodt

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Push to increase South Africa’s sugar tax