Amid a host of unhappy predictions about a slowing economy, United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on Wednesday announced a tax on sugary drinks that has become the most talked-about feature of the country's new Budget. The government claims the move will help fight obesity and other related diseases, among children in particular, which cost the National Health Service £27 billion (Rs 2.5 lakh crore) a year. Soon after the announcement, stocks for soft drinks companies started to fizzle.
According to The Guardian, a tax will apply to drinks that contain more than 5 g of sugar per 100ml, and a higher rate will apply to those that contain more than 8 g per 100ml. For instance, a single can of Coke (330 ml), which usually costs around 70 pence, will have an 8 pence sugar tax levy. This is expected to raise £520 million in its first year. The tax on sugary drinks, The Economist wrote, is a smart move as these contain few other nutrients, unlike many other foods that have sugar.
The move was hailed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has long evangelised the need for people to cut down their sugar consumption. Oliver said on Instagram, ”We did it!” and added that it was "a profound move that will ripple around the world”. He urged other countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany to follow suit.
There was less to cheer about in the rest of the budget. The government announced an extra £3.5 billion (Rs 33,301 crore) in spending cuts and and lowered its growth forecast for the next five years, among other severe announcements.