Bill increasing CNMI betel nut tax defeated

2:07 pm on 4 January 2017

A bill to increase the tax on imported betel nut has failed to pass the Northern Marianas House of Representatives.

Betel Nut, or Buai

Betel Nut, or Buai Photo: Banni Pulikottil CC BY 2.5

The bill was unable to gain enough votes after amendments made by the Senate which included increasing the excise tax from 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent.

House lawmakers said the 200-percent hike on the original excise tax by the Senate would have resulted in betel nut costing as much as $US5 per pound in local shops.

In September, Governor Ralph Torres signed into law a separate bill that prohibited the sale, offer, or giving of betel nut to minors in the CNMI.

Betel nut chewing can cause oral cancer and lawmakers and health workers have been examining methods to curb the practice.

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