On Tuesday 6 September 2017, National Treasury told the portfolio committees on finance and health that the proposed tax on sugary beverages was likely to be introduced in April 2018. The tax was first proposed by the then Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan with government suggesting that these drinks be taxed at a rate of 2.29 cents per gram of sugar, where drinks with large amounts of added sugar will be taxed more. The revised tax rate proposes 2.1 cents per gram of sugar with a new threshold that will make the first 4g of sugar per 100ml beverage exempt from the sugar tax. According to Treasury, the low tax rate might not get people to drink fewer sugary drinks, but it does signal government’s commitment to a healthier SA.
Unions welcomed the delay as concerns about job losses persisted. The general position was that, notwithstanding the health risks, ‘you can’t regulate human behaviour through legislation, especially if that legislation is going to cost people their livelihoods such as jobs’.
A six a side task team made up of government, organised labour and organised business has been engaging on the potential socio-economic impact of the proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. In developing a jobs plan, the Jobs Mitigation and Creation Plan (JMCP) proposed by government, a jobs plan by Labour and the health, economic and jobs plan proposed by Business are among the many plans being analysed.
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