A group consisting of economic, medical and public health scholars has published an open letter to the National Treasury and SARS calling on the groups to double South Africa’s health promotion levy – commonly referred to as the “sugar tax”.
In a full-page advertisement in BusinessDay, the group stated that increasing the sugar tax will help raise revenue and fight rapidly increasing cases of diet-related diseases. The letter includes signatures from professors at the University of Cape Town, Wits University and Harvard and is supported by lobby group Healthy Living Alliance.
According to the scholars, doubling the levy will help reduce sugar consumption, increase revenue and increase health benefits.
The levy currently adds about 11% to the cost of sugary beverages to help curb the country’s sugar consumption. Currently, beverages are taxed at about 2.21 cents per gram of sugar for anything over a 4-gram threshold. For instance, the current levy adds about 46 cents to the price of an average can of original taste Coca-Cola.
The sugar tax does not apply to natural fruit juices or sweetened dairy products, within its first two years it generated R5.4 billion for the government.
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