The Diabetic Association of Pakistan (DAP) has called on the authorities to double the taxes on sugary beverages (SSB) in the upcoming budget. In Pakistan, which has the fourth highest burden of type 2 diabetes, diabetes is growing at an alarming rate, with more than 19 million cases worldwide.
“The Diabetic Association of Pakistan is calling for an increase in federal excise tax from 11.5 percent to 20 percent for sugared beverages (SSB), which unfortunately is becoming an increasingly important component of household food consumption at more than 10 percent, along with a gradual increase in recent years Increase in production and lower prices, ”said Prof. Abdul Basit, Secretary General of the DAP, in a letter to the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Friday.
Prof. Basit, a renowned diabetologist, said SSBs, including soft drinks, are all liquids sweetened with various forms of added sugars and include products that range from sodas to flavored milk.
“The high consumption of these SSBs is a leading cause of obesity and related NCDs, including diabetes. Unfortunately, SSBs are becoming an increasingly important part of household food consumption. The increasing uptake of SSB is a major concern for public health professionals as it will further increase obesity and related diseases like diabetes. “
Prof. Basit added that DAP represents people with diabetes mellitus in Pakistan, which is a major public health burden and threat to the country’s economy. He warned that diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate in the country, and one in four Pakistani adults has type 2 diabetes, according to the 2nd National Diabetes Survey of Pakistan 2016-17.
“Overweight and obesity are important risk factors for the early development of diabetes. According to the Steps Survey (2014-15) for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), more than four in ten adults in Pakistan are obese or overweight, while 37 percent have high blood pressure. “
The respected diabetologist believed that there was an urgent need to create a favorable environment by making policy changes to reduce the consumption of these SSBs. He said increasing the tax on SSBs is an evidence-based first step towards reducing obesity and related diseases like diabetes.
“This policy has been adopted by more than 40 countries. The evidence from India, South Africa, Mexico, Australia and other countries confirms the effectiveness of tax increases for SSBs in reducing their consumption, reducing obesity and related diseases. “
Prof. Basit went on to say that WHO and the World Bank have also recommended increasing taxes on SSBs to reduce obesity and related diseases like diabetes. However, he regretted that Pakistan had low taxes on SSBs compared to countries in the region such as India and the Maldives and many other countries such as SSBs in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.
“On behalf of the association, I call on the federal government to make the following changes within the framework of the Finance Act 2021-22: Increase the federal excise tax on SSB from 11.5 to 20 percent and create a category of SSB that includes sugary drinks in addition to carbonated water ( Juices, energy drinks, flavored milk, iced tea, nectars, etc.) to impose an excise duty of at least 20 percent. “