Group wants sugar tax back on agenda in CNMI

10:00 am on 20 July 2017

A group in the Northern Marianas is garnering support for the reintroduction of a controversial bill imposing additional tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Marianas Variety reported proponents saying the bill would prevent and control non-communicable diseases in the CNMI.

Last year House Bill 19-99 was introduced to impose a tax of four cents per fluid ounce on all sugar-sweetened beverages, syrup and powdered juices or drinks.

Bottles of soft drinks, isolated on a white background. (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

The chair of the Commonwealth Diabetes Coalition Malua Peter said her group was trying to get the bill reintroduced and has appealed for support.

Affected businesses said that a tax of five cents per fluid ounce was already imposed on soft drinks.

But supporters of the tax said the goal was to discourage consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage consumption of water to help prevent obesity, diabetes and other NCDs.

In June 2016 Governor Ralph Torres vetoed the bill, saying, among other things, the tax could be overly punitive for businesses and consumers.

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