The Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) will march to the National Treasury in Pretoria on Monday to protest against the proposed introduction of a sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) tax, or “sugar tax”.
Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said in a statement that the protest is informed by the “admission” from the Treasury and its researchers that the tax will result in job losses.
Masemola said the protest was also prompted by “silly claims that those lost jobs will be fictitiously created elsewhere, say in bottled water or 100 percent juices factories, yet there is no scientific study to prove this”.
Fawu said it supports the quest for a healthy nation and an obesity-free population – which reduces heart problems, strokes and hypertension, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
However, Fawu said it did not believe that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverage products would achieve the intended health objectives.
“We think this will simply become another ‘sin tax’ like those taxes on alcohol and tobacco products,” said Masemola.
“If this tax is introduced as a revenue-raising exercise for the government fiscus we may agree, but if it is introduced as a health policy intervention we beg to differ and we can argue with alcohol and tobacco that those taxes may not have worked as claimed as policy steps for all sorts of realities.”
Masemola added: “If anything, it may well be that the issue of obesity is beyond the sugary beverages into other sugar contained products as well as other fat-intensive products. The question is will those products be taxed as well? It is precisely for these reasons that we are marching to the Treasury in order to call for a summit in getting a comprehensive discussion on obesity and the needed interventions to deal with NCDs”.
African News Agency