COLOMBO: The World Health Organization (WHO) on a special request of Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, has made a proposal to increase taxes on soft drinks based on the sugar content. Sri Lanka Resident Representative of the World Health Organization Dr. Ms. Razia Pendse has handed over the proposal to the Minister of Health recently at the Ministry. According to Minister of Health Diabetes is becoming more prevalent in Sri Lanka among children as well as adults and 10% of Sri Lanka’s population suffers from diabetes, and each year, 52,000 lives are lost due to consumption of sugary beverages.
Consumption of soft drinks has increased because of marketing and advertising and annually Rs. 28 billion is spent on soft drinks, the Minister pointed out. The World Health Organization points out that the poor urban population use soft drinks more commonly and do not pay much attention to healthy foods such as fruits and milk. According to the proposal made by the World Health Organization, several alternative taxation policies have been introduced. The WHO in its proposal has proposed a production tax of Rs. 1 for each one gram of sugar added to a bottle of 100 ml of beverage.
Expressing his views, Dr. Senaratne said in 2015, he proposed to increase the tax on sugar, salt and fat at the annual sessions of cardiologists conference but the local media criticized the proposal. However, in 2016 Great Britain implemented the proposal made by him to increase taxes, he pointed out. He said the number of deaths from non-communicable diseases has increased to 71 percent. Recalling that he introduced the color coding system on drinks to save the people from succumbing to diabetes, the Minister said the program was a success. He said that the WHO has assisted in preparing the proposal to raise taxes on sugar contents on a special request from him. The Minister hopes to present the proposal to the parliament in near future.