South Africa: Experts Weigh in On Why 'Sugar Tax' Needs to Be Increased


The Health Promotion Levy has been a success but it needs to be scaled up quickly, they say.

The sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) tax, also known as the Health Promotion Levy, has been hailed as a resounding success - but it could achieve so much more.

That's the view of PRICELESS SA, the Healthy Living Alliance (Heala) and other leading academics, as the "sugar tax" is in the spotlight once more, with hopes pinned on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni increasing the tax in Wednesday's Budget speech.

Introduced in April 2018, the levy has helped dampen demand for sugary beverages, which are fuelling a rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, and shift demand to healthier options. But at only 11% - well below the World Health Organisation's recommended level of 20% - the tax could be bringing in significantly more revenue for the fiscus over the short term, as well as change behaviour, while over the long-term it will reduce NCD levels in South Africa.

Currently, the levy - which only applies to sugar-sweetened non-alcoholic beverages and not fruit juices, milk drinks or nectars - exempts the first...

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