As promised in the Throne Speech, the Ministry of Health launched the public consultation process today on the proposed implementation of a sugar tax.

The initiative, launched today, will run through to March 1st, to gauge public feedback to identify the best options before “developing a framework for implementation including detailed policy design”.

It is the latest bid to try to reverse the latest survey findings that found “that 75 percent of the island’s adult residents are overweight and more than a third of adults are obese”.

A Ministry spokesperson noted that “the prevalence of obesity and diabetes is one of the highest amongst the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development countries”.

It was also noted that “the Government began the consultation process by setting out specific objectives and identifying options”.

“The proposals target a list items for added levies at the point of their importation into Bermuda. They include sugar, candies, sodas and other beverages with added sugar.

“The purpose of the consultation is to seek views on the detailed policy design rather than to seek views on alternative proposals. The consultation period, spanning eight weeks until March, 2018, is expected to yield feedback to be considered as part of a sugar tax model for Bermuda, with an expected implementation date later in 2018. Consultation responses will be made public.

“The Ministry has collaborated with the Ministry of Finance and the Customs Department, and has reviewed documentation from other jurisdictions.

“In studying their methods of implementation, the Government is being guided by the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and other international bodies with respect to benefits derived from a sugar tax.”

Paper copies of the consultation document may be obtained free of charge. The document and the online feedback form can also be accessed from the Government website.

The consultation will run for eight weeks, starting today (January 4) and ending on March 1st. You can respond online, via email to health@gov.bm, or by post to the attention of David Kendell, Director of Health, Continental Building, 25 Church Street, Hamilton, HM 12. 

Respondents must include their name and state if they’re a business, individual or representing an organization, and indicate the number of people they’re representing. All views and responses must be considered in the public consultation process. And there will be no private consultations. In the interest of transparency, anonymous submissions cannot be accepted.

“All responses will be acknowledged, but it will not be possible to reply to individual representations. Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the Public Access to Information Act (PATI).”