EDITORIAL: Is taxation the solution to our sins?

IT appears the government plans to make us pay for our sins – literally.

Health Minister Dr Michael Darville says the government is considering a sin tax – so people are charged more for items such as sugary beverages to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

The reason is quite simple – and urgent. Our country is leading the way, but in the wrong direction. About 85 percent of the population do not meet the minimum daily intake of fruits and vegetables, while we exceed the regional numbers for being overweight or for obesity.

That leads to increased cases of hypertension, diabetes and other problems, meaning we suffer significantly from non-communicable diseases.

Rather than repent of our sins, the government is considering putting a tax on them.

This is not the first time such an idea has been suggested.

Under the last administration, then Health Minister Dr Duane Sands suggested a sin tax on items such as alcohol, tobacco, lard and substances containing high-fructose corn syrup.

At the time, he said: “High-fructose corn syrup, grease, call it fat, lard, whatever, shouldn’t be cheap and other items, alcohol, cigarettes, which have contributed in a mighty way to the illnesses and injuries of Bahamians, they should not get a free pass.”

For Dr Sands, the equation was simply – charge the tax to pay for National Health Insurance, so if people persisted with their behaviours, then the money would go towards the services that treat the outcome.

We are not naïve enough to believe that such behaviours will change overnight – or ever, for many people, but that is the theory behind imposing extra taxation.

Extra taxes, of course, are never popular – and Dr Darville acknowledges that expected opposition from local producers is giving the government pause before pressing on with the plan. Changing our lifestyle is of course the better outcome – and while the threat of taxation may be the stick, we also need a carrot to encourage such health improvements.

It really can make a difference to our lifespan – and if spending more time with our loved ones is not incentive enough, then peer pressure and health schemes to encourage diet change would be beneficial.

If we don’t, then our sins will catch us up – and perhaps the government too to put money in its pocket.

New at The Tribune

This weekend, The Tribune launches a new venture. Our columnist, Eric Wiberg, whose article you can read in today’s edition, will become our first regular podcast host. You will be able to choose to read his article in the newspaper, or listen to it online at www.tribune242.com.

He will not be the last – our popular Front Porch column is soon to follow, read for the podcast by our managing editor, Stephen Hunt, and there will be more beyond that, including brand new content created exclusively to listen to on our website.

We do hope you will take a moment to listen in – and let us know what you think. We hope this new addition will be welcome. Keep an eye on The Tribune – we have more in store.


birdiestrachan 2 months, 1 week ago

It is not my sin it seems the government wants me to pay for the sins of others, oh no that is not fair


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