Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says that he refuses to give any concessions to beverage companies regarding the sugar tax on sweetened beverages proposed in the 2018 budget.
The 2018 budget has proposed applying a tax of 50 cents per gram of sugar in sweetened beverages.
The Minister said representatives of the beverage companies had asked for concessions but he has stressed that the relief should be given to the people.
Dr. Rajitha Senaratne made this statement while addressing a ceremony held at the Nelum Pokuna Theater in Colombo recently to present awards and certificates to the winners of the World Diabetes Day.
As a measure to control the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) the Sri Lanka, government first introduced a color coding system to rate the sugar content of sweetened beverages. In addition the 2018 budget has proposed imposing a tax according to the sugar content in beverages, especially soft drinks.
The Minister said plans are afoot to launch a program to educate the public on the matter. He said the World Bank has granted US$ 200 million financial assistance to Sri Lanka to control the NCDs.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 70 percent of the population worldwide die from non-communicable diseases and about 5 million people die of diabetes.
In Sri Lanka, deaths due to diabetes have risen and the main cause is excessive consumption of sugar, the Minister said. Therefore, the Minister emphasized that he will implement measures to minimize the sugar consumption and he will not stop the program due to any pressure