Diabetes and overweight people are increasing in this country. Cause? Obviously, junk food and sugary drinks! Now they want to impose additional taxes on consumption over these food items. Bad, isn’t it?
The Union Budget 2017 is to be presented on 1st February in parliament. Fat tax could be announced there. The government is considering introducing this tax on sugary beverages and packaged food that have high salt content and saturated fats on the basis of a proposal made by a group of secretaries. The proceeds from this should be used for the government’s healthcare spends, said the group. A final decision will be taken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Secretaries of Health Ministry and Urban Development ministry held a meeting recently with Narendra Modi about the budget proposal. There they offered the proposal. They advised to spend the collected money of the tax imposition on healthcare. A bureaucrat who attended the meeting said junk food and soft drinks causes weight gain and gives rise to diabetes. So the decision should be taken.
The idea has been speculating since last April. The center has formed a committee headed by the health secretariat.
The fourth National Family Health Survey released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in January 2016 had found that the number of obese people in India doubled over the last 10 years with Andhra Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar, Puducherry and Sikkim reporting more than 30 percent of their population as obese.
According to a study by the British medical journal Lancet reported by The Wall Street Journal, India had 20 million women and 9.8 million men and 4.10 million children were categorized as obese in 2014. In comparison, in 1975, the country had just 800,000 obese women and 400,000 obese men.
Food controller agency, FSSI had even issued a warning, said health secretary CK Mishra. Every year 58 million Indians lost their lives to heart, lung, diabetes and cancer. In 2015, the number of diabetes cases in the country was 6 crore and 91 lakhs.
Under the Goods and Services Tax, which the government is likely to roll out before September 2017, these beverages are to attract 26 percent tax and a cess above that. The quantum of cess will be decided by the GST Council.
If the proposal gets to go ahead from the PM, all food items considered junk, including Maggi, Cadbury and other chocolates, potato chips like Lays and Kurkure and pizzas and burgers, will come under this high-tax bracket with a cess on top of it.
As of now, Kerala is the only city with 14.5% fat tax on burgers, pizzas and pastas served in branded restaurants.