Barbados' Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages is a Step in the Right Direction

Author(s): Central Bank Of Barbados

Created 11 Aug, 2016
Categories General Press Release
Views: 5065

According to a policy brief from the Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC), a local civil society organization, the 10% tax imposed on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) by the Barbados Government in 2015 is a useful first step in the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCD).

The tax applies to local and imported beverages that contain high calorie sweeteners, such as soft drinks, juice drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juices. When the tax was implemented in August last year, Barbados was one of only 10 countries in the world with such a levy. Thirty-three states in the USA also have applied similar taxes.

During his budget speech in July last year, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler cited Barbados being “on the verge of a national crisis with regards to persistent health problems associated with Non-Communicable Diseases” as the impetus for the tax. Barbados spends approximately $225 million per year on the prevention, treatment and control of diabetes and hypertension, the two most prevalent non-communicable diseases in Barbados. Being overweight puts people at a greater risk of developing an NCD. One in three Barbadians is obese.

The HCC brief, a copy of which was sent to the Bank for review, quoted a 2016 World Health Organisation (WHO) report that stated “the rationale for taxation measures to influence purchasing behaviours is strongly supported by the available evidence”, and pointed to encouraging results in Mexico, where the purchase of sweetened beverages decreased by 6% after a similar tax was introduced.

The HCC noted that the SSB tax has the potential to be a deterrent against the consumption of beverages that contain added sugar, which in some cases contain more than the recommended daily intake for sugar in a single bottle, but stressed that additional measures were needed to address the serious obesity problem in Barbados.


The Implementation of Taxation on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages by the Government of Barbados.pdf (2.8 MB)
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