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Less about a tax and more about saving lives

- Wits University

Wits’ PRICELESS SA tells Parliament how fiscal measures could ease SA’s public health burdens.

Public hearings were held in Parliament on Tuesday, 31 January 2017, on the proposed “Taxation of Sugar Sweetened Beverages”.

This follows Finance Minister Pravin Gordon’s announcement last year in the National Budget Speech that the Ministry plans to enact tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) from 1 April 2017 to help reduce excessive sugar intake.

In making her submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Portfolio Committee on Health, Professor Karen Hofman, Director of Priority Cost Effective Lessons for Systems Strengthening (PRICELESS SA), a unit within the School of Public Health at Wits University, told MPs that "taxation is one of the most effective ways to deal with the contribution of sugary drinks to diabetes”.

A new report by PRICELESS SA released in January shows there is strong evidence that fiscal measures, such as taxes and subsidies would address health impacts and improve public health.

The PRICELESS SA Report: Fiscal policies for population health in South Africa found that: “Policy-makers should consider fiscal interventions that target public health concerns. Initial analyses of a selection of excise taxes studied here would, by themselves, reduce lives lost by hundreds of thousands over the next 30 years. The fiscal interventions highlighted have the remarkable potential to improve both public health and fiscal wellbeing: they will save lives, cut costs and raise revenue.”

Hofman recently spoke to CNBC Africa about the report.

[WATCH] New study reveals fiscal measures could ease South Africa’s health burdens:

Professor Karen Hofman on CNBC Africa talking about the latest research on SSBs taxation