Taxing soft drinks: Rajitha refuses to budge


Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne has warned that a Budget proposal to charge 50 cents for each gramme of sugar included in soft drinks would not be reversed despite requests from the manufacturers.

Dr Senaratne said that he had received several requests for tax relief from manufacturers. As a result the price of those drinks had increased in the market.

However, relief should be given to the public. The colour coding system had been introduced to indicate the sugar levels in the drinks they consumed, Senaratne said. He said the second step had been to impose the tax at issue. The Ministry would continue with the process of imposing the tax and raising public awareness, he said, adding that the government had received USD 200 million to control diabetes.

The Health Minister said that deaths due to diabetes were on the rise in Sri Lanka, the main reason being the high intake of sugar. According to the WHO, 70 per cent of deaths in the world were due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including diabetes.

Dr. Senaratne said he was ready to do everything in his power to reduce the sugar consumption in the country and would not be deterred by any influence, the Minister said.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry launched the first national health television service ‘Life TV.’ Addressing the gathering at the launch, Minister Senaratne said that last year 137,000 people had died of NCDs in Sriā€ˆLanka.

He pledged that 300 government hospitals would be registered under the e-health programme launched by the Health Ministry last year. His aim was to include 1,000 hospitals in the digitalisation project by 2020, he added. (DJ)


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