Salt tax still on cards

Work on the introduction of a salt tax is at an “advanced stage.”

Senior medical officer in the Ministry of Health with responsibility for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Dr Arthur Phillips gave this update on World Hypertension Day, which was celebrated yesterday. He said the evidence-gathering phase of the process was almost complete.

Phillips, who was responding to questions following the launch of the NCD Commission at the conference room of the National Insurance Department at the Frank Walcott Building, Culloden Road, St Michael, said a draft proposal prepared by his office was expected to reach the Chief Medical Officer’s desk in about six weeks.

“There is a proposal for a multisectoral mechanism to look at sugar and salt reduction. Part of this comes out of the call from the Prime Minister in her last Budget speech for guidance from the Ministry of Health on the issue of salt tax. This is the discussion paper that we are finalising.

“This paper would provide evidence and some policy options around the issue of the salt tax. The technical staff have shared a draft with me, I am in the process of reviewing that and once any adjustments that are needed are made, in the next six weeks or so we will submit to the Chief Medical Officer for his consideration,” Phillips said.

In her Budget back in March, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said she instructed health officials to present their findings on the feasibility of a salt tax by October this year. She added that the Ministry of Health and Wellness would work with stakeholders to further identify all items with high salt content “in order to impose a similar tariff” to the one on sugar-sweetened beverages. (CLM)

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