Sweet tax: Indonesia mulls excise on sugary drinks

Illustration. Photo: Pixabay
Illustration. Photo: Pixabay

As awareness rises about the health risks from sugary drinks amid an iced tea-related controversy, an official says talks are underway for the imposition of an excise on sweet beverages.

Related — Indonesian netizens sour on sweet drinks after iced tea brand threatens to sue customer

Director General of Customs and Excise Aksolani said today that the government is preparing to draw up plans to introduce an excise on sugary drinks, primarily as a public health consideration.

“It may or may not be implemented in 2023, depending on numerous factors we will face next year such as health, national economy recovery,” Aksolani said.

Responding to the iced tea controversy, the Ministry of Health called back to its Ministerial Regulations (Permenkes) from 2013, which states that food producers must clearly outline their products’ nutritional content, especially those that may pose health risks.

The ministry recommends limiting sugar consumption to 50 grams or around four tablespoons per day. Many packaged sweet drinks in the country have sugar content that either closely approaches or exceeds the limit, yet producers fail to provide the relevant nutritional information on their products.

The ministry’s Director General of Disease Prevention and Control Maxi Rein Rondonuwu said today that a trend of increasing sugar intake among Indonesians has led to a host of public health problems in recent years. He cited official data showing that two people per million live with diabetes in Indonesia as of 2018, up from 1.5 per million in 2013.

Research also showed that 61.27 percent of Indonesians aged 3 and above consume at least one portion of a sugary drink per day. From 2006 to 2016, Indonesia’s childhood obesity rate (ages 5-19) rose from 2.8 percent to 6.1 percent.

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