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Asean eyes DOF-backed sugary drink tax eyed as health model

By: - Reporter / @daxinq
11:17 AM September 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member nations have hailed the Philippines’ excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages under the tax reform program of the Duterte administration as a case of successful fiscal policy intervention that aims to attain the group’s goal of nurturing a healthier society in the region, according to the Department of Finance (DOF).

In a statement, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said that, during an Asean meeting in Indonesia recently, officials from Malaysia and Singapore expressed interest in studying how the Philippines had successfully implemented its tax on sugary drinks so that they could also possibly impose a similar tax as a health measure.

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This was conveyed to him during the Asean Interpillar Consultation Meeting for the Reformulation and Production of Healthy Food and Beverages held in Semarang, Indonesia, Beltran said in his report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during the department’s latest executive committee meeting.

Since January 2018, the Philippine government implemented an excise tax on sugary drinks equivalent to P6 per liter for beverages using purely caloric sweeteners and a higher P12 per liter for those using high fructose corn syrup, as mandated by the new tax law.

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This sugary drink tax helped lower the consumption of sweetened beverages by an average of 6.5 percent, with powdered concentrates registering the highest decline at 25 percent, based on the 2018 data from Euromonitor on the sales of beverage companies in the Philippines, Beltran said.

The Finance department was invited to the meeting as part of the Department of Health-led Philippine delegation by the Indonesian Ministry of Health.

The meeting discussed the health challenges facing Asean and its peoples, which is the continuous increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases.

“In addressing this, the Asean member states have prioritized  the reformulation and production of healthier food and beverage options as one of the key strategies to be implemented,” Beltran said.

Beltran said the meeting’s main output was a draft action plan of Asean health ministers on the reformulation of and production of healthier food and beverages through the implementation of policy interventions such as taxation.

The meeting was part of the project activity of the Asean on achieving its goal of promoting a healthy lifestyle in the region, Beltran said.

Among the regional bloc’s health priorities is the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, which was endorsed by the 12th Asean Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development.   /muf

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