Archer ponders duty rate review

| 18/03/2016 | 21 Comments
Cayman News Service

Marco Archer, Minister of Finance & Economic Development (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): With the introduction of the new custom codes, government is better placed to examine the duty on goods imported into the Cayman Islands, which offers an opportunity to look at the current rates, according to Finance and Economics Minister Marco Archer. Following news that Britain has introduced a sugar tax on sodas and other soft sweet drinks as a step towards dealing with childhood obesity in the UK, Archer said he had not been asked nor had he considered implementing a similar levy here but he would raise the question with his colleagues.

Although Cayman has never used its duty levels as a way to encourage healthier living, the finance minister confirmed that he had given some consideration to reviewing the current rates of duty.

“With the capabilities of the Harmonized Tariff Codes, we are now better able to distinguish between imported products to formulate policies and I had given some thought to a comprehensive review of the import duty rates but needed to ensure that there is sufficient years of data to make an informed decision on adjusting the rates,” he said.

With Cayman facing similar childhood obesity rates as other western countries alongside as well as significant levels of diabetes, there is an opportunity for government to help social engineer better choices.

Responding to the CNS story on Thursday about the UK move, our commenters offered mixed views on the issue. Some readers felt efforts by government to try and make people improve their well-being were the policies of a nanny state, while others backed the idea and suggested it should extend to all junk foods. There was also the suggestion that, as duty is already high, it would be better to lower the rate on healthy food and drink rather than increase duty on the bad.

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Category: Health, Medical Health, Politics

Comments (21)

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  1. Jotnar says:

    Got to pay for Ms Mary’s health insurance somehow…

  2. Anonymous says:

    If he didn’t ponder so much things would be different

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if a flat duty rate across the board would be much more efficient and come out in a wash at the end of the day. It surely would reduce the hours spent by importers and Government to determine and calculate the correct rates. While I pay more duty on Raspberries, I make it back up by buying milk (which is duty free).

    BTW – is all milk duty free or only cows milk? Milk is not really an essential and actually more and more people move away from drinking cows milk these days.

    And while we are at it, please can make the churches pay duty o their imports just like everyone else has to pay!!!

    • Juice for Jesus! says:

      Churches can’t pay tax on imported items (not all items are excluded however), don’t ya know?

      God is broke, but he loves you and he needs money!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Do we really want any of our MLAs pretending they are medical doctors or clinical nutritionists? 2 slices of bread have a greater impact on blood glucose levels than a Mars bar. By fluid ounce comparison, Orange Juice is just as calorific as many sodas and the popular caprisun fruit punch bags that parents give their kids. The body converts carbohydrates, fructose, and other sugars into blood glucose for immediate use, or short term or long term storage. The body makes the call on what happens to those calories. The arbitrary demonization of a popular treat item is not going to change those metabolic realities.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Pepsi costing more will only increase the # of pregnancies Everyone knows its cheap birth control

  6. Anonymous says:

    There’s a junior school in Scotland that implemented a 1 mile run as part of the school day, in an area that has similar levels of child obesity to here. They don’t have a single kid in that group now, Plenty of other schools are now trying it out, its free and everyone can do it, Sorry bit off topic, but a better solution than trying to influence eating, all you will end up with is rich fat kids!

  7. I'm not a doctor ? says:

    Leave my Pepsi alone! #leavepepsialone

    Higher duties on ‘sugary foods’ won’t stop anyone, they’ll just buy it anyway. Don’t believe me? Check after 6 months and see what the impact is. The only benefit is to the government purse. Just like the sin tax on alcohol and cigarettes, still smoking and drinking strong after the tax was hiked to “discourage” such “sins” of the body.

    Education is part key. Show cause and effect, start from primary school, with both the education of what may happen when one consumes too much of one thing and of course healthy foods served for lunch.

    Fast food restaurants, now that’s another area to look at when it comes to bad eating habits that can (and I stress the word can) lead to an unhealthy body and life expectancy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great idea Hon.Archer. I know you have concerns about the cost of civil servants benefits and this new tax can help to pay the health insurance of all the future ‘past speakers’ that you want us to pay for.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Suggestion: raise duty on non-degradable products like styrofoam containers and reduce the duty on degradable products.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am a diabetic who try as best I can to practice healthy living through how I eat, activities, spiritual and social well- being. I don’t know if raising the cost on these sweet foods and drinks will help that much. Persons must take responsibility for themselves and make good choices. However if the government wants to offer a holistic approach towards better health for all, then they should put their energy abs expertise into making Cinico a more viable health insurance, by restructuring it so that for a premium of CI dollars.500 per month the insured would be allowed more than CI dlrs. 400 per year. Cinico should become the national insurance company of the Cayman Islands and every person working on this rock should have to become a member whether public or private worker, wealthy or not. Right now Cinico’s members are aside from civil service workers , made up mainly of retirees who lost their insurance once becoming retired, those who cannot afford the private health insurance, prisoners, indigents, retired seaman. No insurance company can be properly funded from those sectors. initially when Cinico was set up it was supposed to morph into a full- fledged national insurance company Of course the private insurance companies will balk at it but that should not become a hindrance. They have all made billions off us already, also anyone or any company who wants private insurance can feel free to take out a supplemental policy with whoever they want. Mr. Archer I think you along with the Minister of Health and the Minister Responsible for Social Services should do something about Cinico. After which you should then focus on a higher tax on sweet foods and drinks , alcohol, cigarettes, all processed foods, as well as lowering the duties on milk certain juices, fresh fruits and vegetables and sea foods. I am sure the above suggestions will create a healthier impact for all. Thank you Sir for your interest

    • Anonymous says:

      Milk is duty free already… But I do agree with you. On the other hand both can be done at once!

      • Anonymous says:

        Duty free and Cayman Brac paying CI8.00 a gallon?

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for reminding me that milk is already duty free. I sincerely hope that Minister Archer reads and take notice. let’s see if anyhthing is done or if it is only a political sound bite about the “sugar tax” . They have their glib comments down to a science. Waiting with bated breath.

  10. Anonymous says:

    don’t hold your breath with the do-nothing ppm……

    • Caymanian Voter says:

      Hmm, This is an administration that has brought the cost of living down, has reduced the duty on fuel for CUC (my CUC bill is significantly lower than it was 3 year ago!), more Caymanians are employed now than they were under the previous administration and they are balancing the budget – paying down debts and have cash in the bank. Not sure that you can call that ‘a do nothing!’

      • Anonymous says:

        Please do not attribute the fall in world wide oil prices to the PPM. The reason cost of living fell, is because everything is imported and fuel is a big factor in importing any goods from abroad.

        On the other I think duties on sodas and possibly other unhealthy foods should be raised. If you cannot afford it you wont eat it.

        Take for example buying organic food, it is more expensive so people opt for the not so healthy cheaper food products.

        I am surprised that no government previously in power has not thought about this earlier as new income stream for CIG. That way the duty can be lowered on other necessary and healthier imported food products, while revenues from duties remain unaffected or will increase.

        • Anonymous says:

          Will the benefits trickle down to the consumer? Milk is still out of the reach of many poor people.

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