8 Jun 2012

Cooks to hike soft drink import levy

2:36 pm on 8 June 2012

The Cook Islands government is increasing the import levy on soft drinks and alcohol.

The budget is being tabled this afternoon and includes a 15 percent increase on sweetened drinks and alcoholic drinks, though the levy on low-alcohol beers will rise by just five percent.

The Finance Minister, Mark Brown, says the levy on sweetened drinks aims to encourage behavioural change among Cook Islanders.

He says non-communicable diseases continue to be a major challenge and have been identified as the single biggest public health challenge facing the country in the medium term.

In a media release, the minister also says the incidence of dental caries among young children continues to be very high and consumption of soft drinks is a contributing factor.