Public hearings on proposed sugar tax continue in Parliament

It’s the second day of public hearings on the proposal announced by the finance minister during his budget address last year.

The Parliament of South Africa. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Consumer Goods Council and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) are among organisations expected to make representations on the introduction of a sugar tax on sweetened beverages on Tuesday.

It’s the second day of public hearings on the proposal announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan during his budget address last year.

Government says a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is necessary to improve the health of South Africans and lessen the burden on the public health system.

Two weeks ago, over 15 organisations representing industry, civil society and academia squared-off about the pros and cons of introducing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The sugar and beverage industries said they were being unfairly targeted, adding that a sugar tax would impact the economy and lead to job losses.

Instead, they proposed the regulation of sugar content in all food.

on Tuesday, Parliament's joint committee on finance and health is expected to hear more from a cross-section of organisations, including Pioneer Foods.

The company produces a range of fruit juices currently not affected by the sugar tax proposal.

Stellenbosch University and a beverage packaging company are also scheduled to appear.

Gordhan is expected to shed more light on the proposal in his budget speech next week, while the formal introduction of legislation is not expected until at least May.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)