A trader retrievesa receipt from an EBM. The amended law reinforces ministerial powers to fine taxpayers who circumvent using electronic billing machines to avoid paying taxes. (File)

Ahead of the presentation of the 2020 Budget and Economic Policy statement of the government to Parliament later next month some individuals and civil society organizations are of the view that the government must seriously consider increasing tax on tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy commodities such as sugar and sweeteners.

A stakeholders roundtable discussion held on Wednesday participants proposed to the government to consider an increment in tax on tobacco and alcohol products and on unhealthy commodities such as sugar in it the 2020 Budget.

In a resolution issued at the end of the one day meeting, the participants proposed an increment in the ad valorem excise tax on tobacco which currently stands at 175% by at least 50% to 252% in the 2020 Budget Statement.

They also want a legislation that would in the long-term, change the tobacco tax regime from ad valorem to specific tax as recommended by experts in the 2012 tobacco taxation action research in the ECOWAS Region.

“Increase the ad valorem excise tax sugar Sweetened Beverages and alcohol by at least 50% in the 2020 Budget Statement. Change the tax base of tobacco products from CIF to reflect average/maximum retail prices instead of (Expand the tax base to be import duty inclusive of the CIF). Earmark the sin-taxes on tobacco, alcohol, SSBs etc. for health promotion,” they stated in the resolution.

They are also asking for the removal of all incentives (no tax exempt, no 50% FOB discount) on the importation of tobacco, alcohol products and sugary sweetened drinks; a Collaborate with the Ministry of Health and the Custom Division of GRA to fight illicit trade in tobacco products in line with the WorlD Health Orgaization’s Framework Convention on Illicit Trade Protocol (WHO FCTC); while banning the importation and use of shisha and its equipment, all types of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems electronic (ENDS).

The stakehoders are also asking for a complete ban on the packaging of alcohol in sachets.

Championed by the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), the meeting was attended by stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service (GHS), the Tax Policy Unit of the Ministry of Finance, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA), Ghana Alcohol Policy Alliance, Ghana Tax Advocacy Network for Health Promotion, Community Health Support Team, Media Alliance in Tobacco Control or Health (MATCHOH), among others.

Among others the meeting also discussed a common agenda and position to addressing the low cost of unhealthy commodities, strategies to ensure the adoption of best tax regime on tobacco and alcohol to advance public health; as well as how to support the Ministry of Health to increase tax on tobacco and alcohol to finance health.

We publish below the full resolution of the coming out of the Stakeholders meeting

Stakeholders Round Table Resolution Calls for Tax Increment on All Unhealthy Commodities in the 2020 Budget Statement

WE, the stakeholders from government and civil society organizations got together at a round table engagement meeting to discuss tax increment on unhealthy commodities such as tobacco, alcohol and sugar sweetened beverages.

The purpose is to suggest to government through the Ministry of Finance strategies for effective tax measure that will increase government revenue, reduce consumption and diseases from harmful commodities and reduce the health cost borne by the Ministry every year. It is also to identify and recommend global actions that protect present and future generations from the hazards of tobacco use.
We,

Recognize that Non-communicable Diseases are the leading cause of deaths in the world today killing over 40 million people annually, with tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution being the major preventable risk factors.

Recognize that majority of tobacco and alcohol users begin before the age of 18 years and are the primary target of these industries and their allies

Acknowledge that results from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) shows no difference in current tobacco use trends among boys and girls in 58% of the countries surveyed.

Note that appropriate tax and price measures are effective in reducing tobacco and alcohol use among the youth and vulnerable

Note the fact that prices of tobacco and alcohol are among the cheapest commodities on the Ghanaian market

Request the effective implementation of Article 6 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on price and tax measures to address consumption of all unhealthy commodities
Recognize high uptake of shisha and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems electronic (ENDS) use among the youth which threatens to erode all the gains made in tobacco control over the last decade and a half
We, therefore, call upon

The government, through the Ministry of Finance to:

Increase the ad valorem excise tax on tobacco currently at 175% by at least 50% to 252% in the 2020 Budget Statement

In the long-term, legislate to change the tobacco tax regime from ad valorem to specific tax as recommended by experts in the 2012 tobacco taxation action research in the ECOWAS Region.
Increase the ad valorem excise tax sugar Sweetened Beverages and alcohol by at least 50% in the 2020 Budget Statement

Change the tax base of tobacco products from CIF to reflect average/maximum retail prices instead of (Expand the tax base to be import duty inclusive of the CIF)
Earmark the sin-taxes on tobacco, alcohol, SSBs etc. for health promotion

Remove all incentives (no tax exempt, no 50% FOB discount) on the importation of tobacco, alcohol products and sugary sweetened drinks
Collaborate with the Ministry of Health and the Custom Division of Ghana Revenue Authority to fight illicit trade in tobacco products in line with the WHO FCTC Illicit Trade Protocol
Ban the importation and use of shisha and its equipment, all types of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems electronic (ENDS)
Ban the packaging of alcohol in sachets

Source: ghananewsonline.com.gh

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