Government has increased taxes on tobacco products, alcoholic and artificially sweetened or sugar-added beverages in a move to discourage excessive consumption on those products.
The new tax measures were announced yesterday by Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves during presentation of his 2019 budget address at the House of Assembly.
Gonsalves said that for cigarettes containing tobacco, the excise will increase from $1.55 per 100 sticks to $2.75 per 100 sticks. Unmanufactured tobacco, tobacco refuse will see an increase from 6 percent to 10 percent. Cigar products will see excise duty going up from 14 percent to 20 percent. Other manufactured tobacco and tobacco substitutes will go up from 6 percent to 10 percent.
Gonsalves said that other tobacco products will increase from 12 percent to 18 percent.
In relation to sweetened beverages, the finance minister said that water, including mineral water and aerated waters containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or flavoured, the rate will increase from 10 percent to 20 percent. And, aerated beverages will see an increase from 10 percent to 20 percent.
On the matter of alcoholic beverages, Gonsalves said undenatured ethylalcohol (pure alcohol) of an alcoholic strength by volume of 80 percent or higher – the rate will increase by 10.7 percent. And, Brandy, Whiskies, Gin (Geneva), Vodka and rum in bottles of strength not exceeding 46 percent volume etc, will be increased by 20 percent.
Gonsalves said the Caribbean has the highest rate of mortality from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Americas, and the prevalence of diabetes is double the global rate. He said that obesity in children is on the rise, driven in part by the increased consumption of certain fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Non-Communicable disease and their risk factors are responsible for over 75 percent of all deaths in the Caribbean, well above the global average,” the finance minister stated.
Gonsalves noted that the four main risk factors for NCDs are tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
“Non-Communicable diseases are costly to Government, individuals and the society, with the costs of treatment, the impacts on productions and the reductions in quality of life all impacting economies, health systems and households,” he stated.
Gonsalves stressed that the excise duties to be imposed on the products are in support of efforts to promote healthy living and to implement fiscal measures that assist in government’s continued fight against the increased prevalence of NCDs and their deadly impact.
The measures on those categories of products are expected to yield additional revenue of $3.7 million, according to information stated by the Minister of Finance

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