ISLAMABAD, Sep 9 (APP): The experts through the platform of the Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) on Friday proposed the federal government increase federal excise duty (FED) on sugar-sweetened beverages instead of fuel and agricultural inputs as it would help garner a sizeable revenue of Rs60 billion per year.

Addressing a media briefing here flanked by former Pakistan Bait-ul-Maal Chairman Malik Zaheer Abbass Khokhar, General Secretary PANAH Sanaullah Ghumman said the increased taxation on fuel prices and agricultural inputs would put more burden on the already disaster-stricken masses.

He said the PANAH was working for the past four decades on health education and also assisting the masses in disasters as it had recently sent flood relief items to disaster impacted areas through the Rawalpindi Corps and was also organising a medical camp in Swat flood-hit areas.

“We are working on adoption and sharing of world best practices to control disease burden in the country and today’s seminar is part of this series,” he said.

He said the sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) were causing many diseases among the masses that could be controlled through avoiding the excessive use of sugar and sweet and fizzy drinks.

“Our economic situation demands out of the box solutions and the tax on SSBs can help generate unprecedented revenue. The FED on SSBs can generate Rs60 billion revenue which is a huge amount to manage the prevailing inflation and economic crunch.”

He regretted that the Health Ministry’s proposals and the Health Contribution Bill were pending and awaiting the government’s green signal to materialise a historic decision to control bulging disease burden.

“It will be a win-win situation as the health burden will be directly reduced through taxation alongwith extra revenue collected through SSBs.”

He underlined that the daily intake of SSBs increased 43% risk of heart attacks, and 17% risk of cancer.

Ministry of Health expert Dr Khawaja Masood said the variable consumption of SSBs incurred additional calories into human body that was health damaging. The SSBs or packaged fruit juices were harmful to health due to its recipes having health injurious elements.

Consultant Food Policy Program at Global Health Advocacy Incubator Munawar Hussain said that inflation was skyrocketing and increased taxes on SSBs was adopted in India at 40% rate and other middle eastern countries which was an example for the country to follow suit.

“Pakistan has the lowest taxation globally and regionally on SSBs which is imperative to be increased as tax on SSBs will generate Rs 55 billion per year and in case of implementation on pending proposals on sugary drinks taxation alone can generate Rs 60 billion per year.”

He added that in a national survey conducted by the National Health Council eight out of ten Pakistani adults supported the government for taking measures to discourage consumption of SSBs.

Former PBM Chairman Malik Zaheer Abbass Khokhar said PANAH’s objective was a noble and sublime cause.
He added that economy and health were the major crises of the country and rising inflation would increase anxiety and diseases among the masses due to stress.

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