The Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) will march to the Treasury buildings in Pretoria today, to protest against the pending introduction of a sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) tax, referred to as sugar tax.
“The determination to mount this march was informed by [the] admission from the Treasury and their researchers that there will be job losses emanating from this sugar tax and the silly claims that those lost jobs will be fictitiously created elsewhere, say in bottled water or in 100% juices factories, yet there is no scientific study to prove this,” Fawu’s general secretary, Katishi Masemola, said yesterday.
“We support a quest for a healthy nation and want an obesity-free population, if that means a citizenry not prone to heart problems, strokes, hypertension and diabetes, or other noncommunicable diseases,” he said.
“However, we do not believe that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverage products will be a mechanism to achieve the intended health objectives.
“We think this will simply become another ‘sin tax’, like taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.
“If this tax is introduced as a revenue-raising exercise for the government fiscus we may agree, but if it is introduced as a health policy intervention we beg to differ … and we can [also] argue with alcohol and tobacco [tax], [for] those taxes may not have worked as claimed,” he said.
“In any case, we do not think that some of the arguments, such that obesity and consequential diseases are [related to] lifestyle, such as [in the] consumption of sugary drinks, because there may be multiple factors revolving on dire socioeconomic condition,” Masemola said.
“Anyway, one job loss is too many jobs to lose,” he added, “given the high rate of unemployment coupled with persisting poverty and the widest inequality on Earth.”
Masemola said it was equally important to strive for much-needed “positive health outcomes from preventive measures and treatment interventions,” without the use of “inappropriate or blatant instruments”.
“We hope that Treasury and the entire government would realise the importance of convening a summit of the all relevant stakeholders and role players to deal with the overall issue of obesity,” Masemola said.
– African News Agency