Zimbabwe’s Sugar Tax Sparks Price Surge, Minister Warns

The latest news and analysis from Zimbabwe and beyond.

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabweans may have to brace for higher prices of sugar and other products, as the government’s sugar tax takes effect. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube issued a chilling warning on Wednesday, saying that the tax was meant to discourage excessive consumption of sugar and promote healthy lifestyles, but it could also have unintended consequences on the economy.

The sugar tax, which was announced in the 2024 national budget, imposes a 10% levy on sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, juices, and energy drinks. The tax is expected to generate $1.2 billion Zimbabwean dollars ($3.2 million US dollars) in revenue for the government, which is facing a fiscal deficit and a debt crisis.

However, Ncube said that the tax could also trigger inflationary pressures, as manufacturers and retailers pass on the cost to consumers. He said that the government was monitoring the situation and would intervene if necessary. He urged the public to be patient and understand the rationale behind the tax.

“The sugar tax is not a punitive measure, but a preventive one. We want to reduce the consumption of sugar and its related health risks, such as obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. We also want to encourage the production and consumption of healthier alternatives, such as fruits, vegetables, and water,” Ncube said.

He added that the tax was part of the government’s broader strategy to reform the economy and improve the welfare of the people. He said that the government was also investing in infrastructure, education, health, and social protection, as well as implementing policies to attract foreign investment, create jobs, and fight corruption.

“We are aware of the challenges that our people are facing, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected our lives and livelihoods. We are doing everything we can to mitigate the impact and ensure a speedy recovery. We ask for your cooperation and support in this journey. Together, we can build a prosperous and healthy Zimbabwe,” Ncube said.


Source: New Zimbabwe

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