24 Oct 2012

CNMI hospital debt spawns fat tax plan

1:13 pm on 24 October 2012

A so-called fat tax has been proposed in the Northern Marianas to help pay off the debt of the territory's troubled public hospital.

The Vice Speaker Felicidad Ogumoro's bill proposes a five percent tax on at least 30 consumer goods, including betel nuts, chocolate, soft drinks and peanut butter.

Ms Ogumoro says the tax on unhealthy food and tobacco will combat obesity in the CNMI and help the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation pay off its close to five million US dollar debt.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation has been in deep financial trouble and laid off staff.

It has also proposed a fee hike to raise money.

But the executive director of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Richard Pierce, says it is against the tax because it will lead to a price increase for consumers.