As part of its efforts to tackle lifestyle diseases, Ministry of Health has mooted levying of tax on fast food and sugar in the country.
The proposed tax, if implemented, said a high ranking official at the ministry, will fetch a revenue between RO 80 million and RO 100 million per annum.
“We have requested for a levy on fast food and substances including sugar that do harm to human health,” said Dr Ali bin Talib al Hinai, Under-Secretary for Planning Affairs at the Ministry of Health. The revenue from the tax, proposed to be implement in line with the recent selective tax, according Dr Al Hinai, will be used to fund the Medical City being established by the ministry.
“The ministry is planning to create a health fund to aid the establishment of the medical city in general and the health of the people in particular”, he said, while answering queries from journalists during a meeting last week.
The new Medical City to be established at a cost of RO 479 million is expected to be a centre for numerous medical services catering to all kinds of diseases, in addition to giving a fillip to medical tourism in the country.
Dr Hinai (Pictured) said that the Medical City will be funded in multiple ways including the proposed tax, direct revenue from the project and investments from its health fund.
Although the decision to impose the ‘sin tax’ aids to improve the country’s fiscal position, it rather supports the government’s efforts to enhance public health and prevent chronic diseases directly linked to sugar and tobacco consumption.
The Ministry of Health is using a substantial part of its resources to curb the spread of unhealthy habits that have led to a significant rise in lifestyle diseases including cancer and diabetes.
National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) shows that the number of people with obesity or who are overweight increased by more than 50 per cent in 2018.
In 2018 alone, as many as 119 new cases of people being obese or overweight were recorded.
Cardiovascular ailments, hypertension, cancer and diabetes were revealed to be responsible for 72.9 per cent of deaths in the country in 2016.