Rex Talamge, the chairperson of the SA Cane Growers’ Association, said yesterday that the organisation welcomed the decision to maintain the health promotion levy, or ’sugar tax’, at its current rate. Photo: File
Rex Talamge, the chairperson of the SA Cane Growers’ Association, said yesterday that the organisation welcomed the decision to maintain the health promotion levy, or ’sugar tax’, at its current rate. Photo: File

Local industry recovery boosted by Budget reprieve on sugar tax

By Philippa Larkin Time of article published Feb 25, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - REX TALMAGE, the chairperson of the SA Cane Growers’ Association, said yesterday that the organisation welcomed the decision to maintain the health promotion levy, or “sugar tax”, at its current rate.

Consumer lobbies have been calling on the government to increase the tax levy, introduced in 2018, to force people to shift to healthier options amid the rise of obesity and diabetes numbers in South Africa.

“Although we had called for a reduction in the sugar tax, Minister Mboweni’s Budget adds no additional obstacles to the sticky path ahead for the industry’s recovery and the 1 million livelihoods that depend on our industry,” he said.

Talmage said it was critical that the other commitments made in the sugar industry master plan were implemented as soon as possible.

“The SA Cane Growers have consistently called for the completion of a socio-economic impact assessment study on the impact of the sugar tax. This will enable the government and industry to analyse the need and efficacy of any tax or supposed health promotion levy from a factual basis,” he said.

A survey conducted in the first year of the sugar tax found that the sugar industry had lost in excess of 9 000 jobs in the cane-growing sector alone.

He said a comprehensive report should also include the impact on other affected industries, including the sugar-sweetened beverage industry.

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