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Dame Billie supports IMF soft drink tax suggestion

Former deputy prime minister Dame Billie Miller is backing an International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendation that Government impose a tax on soft drinks.

Describing the beverages as “just sugar water”, Dame Billie told Barbados TODAY the drinks were contributing to the high level of diabetes in the country.

She acknowledged that the move could affect local manufacturers, but said the health of the Barbadians was more important.

The recommendation to levy the tax at a standard rate was made by the IMF as part of revenue generating measures in a report on Barbados’ tax system.

Asked if she would support such a measure, Dame Billie replied, “Sure, they do it with tobacco and other things which are damaging to health.”

Earlier this month, the chief commercial officer of Banks Holdings Limited said the group’s soft drink manufacturing business, the Barbados Bottling Company, would be negatively impacted if this were to happen.

Former deputy prime minister Dame Billie Miller.

Former deputy prime minister Dame Billie Miller.

“The beverages that we produce are not high-end, nothing in our portfolio is considered a luxury good . . . The products that we make are part of the commodity basis where you consume on your disposable income, so you don’t say ‘I am not going to drink water today’,” explained Ray Chee-A-Tow.

But Dame Billie, a strong proponent of self-care, particularly following the recent death of her youngest brother to diabetes at the age of 59, said Barbadians need to make more healthy choices.

“It’s not like they don’t have any alternatives, they can be creative. Every other island in the Caribbean that I visit, in any hotel, in any restaurant I can always get fresh fruit juice [but] it’s a hard thing to get in Barbados,” she noted, after declaring war on diabetes.

The retired politician also voiced concern that many women were neglecting their health, and falling victim to non-communicable diseases, as they pushed to make a mark for themselves in the corporate world.

“We have to be careful not to be imitating too much lifestyles of men and we’ve been doing that to the point where there are more women now presenting with heart disease than men in Barbados and in the wider world [by] the rushing to work. All things fall before work forgetting that women, whether they have children or not, still do two jobs,” she said.

“ . . . It worries me that the tension that comes with the lifestyle comes with a number of chronic illnesses. It’s very worrying to me that more women than men are presenting with heart disease. Then there’s hypertension and that has, again, to deal with self-discipline and diet.”

18 Responses to Dame Billie supports IMF soft drink tax suggestion

  1. NathAn Salcedo
    NathAn Salcedo November 28, 2014 at 5:20 am


  2. NathAn Salcedo
    NathAn Salcedo November 28, 2014 at 5:20 am


  3. Arther Lashley November 28, 2014 at 6:16 am


    American Diabetes Association answered

    To the Hon,. Billie

    TAX being FAT.
    You appear to be Taxable.

    American Diabetes Association answered

    Eating too much of anything causes weight gain, which leads to obesity. Being overweight can be the trigger that causes type 2 diabetes to show itself. Whether the excess pounds are from eating candy or bagels or meat loaf makes little difference. Eating too much sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. But eating too much sugar isn’t healthy for anyone. It can cause tooth decay and with the increase in calories, lead to excess pounds. Sweets contain lots of carbohydrates and sometimes fat, which may fill you up without giving you much nutritional benefit. Having a candy bar before lunch makes it easier to pass up the vegetable soup

  4. Bobby Gilkes
    Bobby Gilkes November 28, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Kinda of reminds me of when the men kill Tom grandmother quick so them get hang she lost her brother to diabetes so she want the soft drinks tax I does tell ya

  5. Ralph White
    Ralph White November 28, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Soft drink tax will increase further expenses for all including the tourism market. It will curtail consumer spend and that is not what our economy needs.

  6. Ralph White
    Ralph White November 28, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Soft drink tax will increase further expenses for all including the tourism market. It will curtail consumer spend and that is not what our economy needs.

  7. Mohamed Adam
    Mohamed Adam November 28, 2014 at 6:42 am

    I would like to see a single cigarette go to $10 a mini rum go to $100 and a soft drink go to $5 those things are so bad for us.

  8. J. Rowe November 28, 2014 at 7:01 am

    I agree with Dame Billie. There is too much stress from the lifestyle diseases on people as well as on Gov’t finances.

  9. Khadija Ballantyne
    Khadija Ballantyne November 28, 2014 at 7:52 am

    How much further down are we really going to carry our economy. People are already struggling with all these diff tax and now cause she brother dead from diabetes she appear in the lime light now saying she support taxing soft drinks. That is just plain stupid soft drinks is not the only thing that gives you diabetes. Just for example many fruits contain high levels of sugar but you are not going to say tax fruits. You say you want to support fighting the cause then i think she should look at all options not just say tax the soft drinks.(cause if she had shares in a soft drink company she would not agree with it as she would be losing money rather than gaining)

  10. Daniel Burton
    Daniel Burton November 28, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Just look around, bajans Dont drink water, soft drinks and juice all the way.

  11. Daniel Burton
    Daniel Burton November 28, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Sorry that should read “juice”

  12. Prince Shepheard
    Prince Shepheard November 28, 2014 at 8:59 am

    she is still grieving

  13. Dawn Franklin
    Dawn Franklin November 28, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Only because you brother dead you supporting this now,he is who eat what the hell he want and didn’t control his eating portions reminds me when you wanted us to go school on Satndays wonder

  14. Dawn Franklin
    Dawn Franklin November 28, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Saturday’s got my head hot now wanna people is something else when wanna family dead wanna want to run all we lives and didn’t tell the person’s to eat properly

  15. Eddie Smith
    Eddie Smith November 28, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Are sodas in the USA being a taxed? Last I heard many there have serious issues with diabetes. And that’s not to say we shouldn’t address it. The question is how. Contracting the economy certainly isn’t the way!

  16. unlooka November 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Loss of customers loss of income loss of jobs! Good job mam

  17. John-What Ever
    John-What Ever November 28, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    soft drinks tax, what a joke

  18. beckles December 19, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Very commendable advice, as a diabetic for 28 years and a management consultant on the subject it is without doubt that
    soft drinks and cocktail-drinks should also be discourage by taxation
    and band out of education institutions, this may sounds a bit drastic but people should be educated at an early age about this global deadly disease.
    This is no joke.


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