The Beverage Association of South Africa (BevSA) said on Thursday that it remained convinced that the reduction of obesity rates in South Africa could be done without the negative impacts of taxation in the economy.
This comes after BevSA on Tuesday outlined its opposition to a proposed 20 percent tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) at a joint sitting in Parliament of the standing committee on finance and the portfolio committee on Health.
Government has proposed a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks from April, in a bid to curb the country’s high obesity rate.
While it acknowledged that obesity was a concern in South Africa, BevSA said there were more effective ways to address the problem than a tax on soft drinks.
BevSA proposed regulating sugar reduction instead of introducing a sugar tax, with the industry willing to commit to achieving double the calorie reduction envisaged by a tax, without adverse economic effects and job losses.
It urged more in-depth local research before a tax was implemented, including a total dietary intake study to determine the drivers of South Africa’s rising obesity and a detailed socio-economic impact assessment on the effects of a tax.
BevSA argued that the sugar tax would harm the industry and the country’s economic growth prospects, while delivering very limited health benefits.
It warned that tens of thousands of jobs could be on the line if the tax goes ahead and numerous capital investment projects in various sectors of the economy would be put on hold.