Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Questions (91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

91. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the revenue generated by the sugar sweetened drinks tax since its introduction; if he will provide a revised estimate of the revenue raised from the tax in a full year and a projection for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11546/19]

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Denise Mitchell

Question:

92. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the number of products that have been affected by the imposition of a calcium threshold on products exempt from the sugar sweetened drinks tax; if the imposition of the threshold has brought these products within the scope of the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11547/19]

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Denise Mitchell

Question:

93. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the consideration which has been given to extending the sugar sweetened drinks tax to products within the CN2202 category in which sugar has been added; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11548/19]

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Denise Mitchell

Question:

94. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the status of an evaluation that has taken place of the sugar sweetened drinks tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11549/19]

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Denise Mitchell

Question:

95. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the research which has been undertaken on evidence based fiscal measures to support healthy eating and lifestyles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11550/19]

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Denise Mitchell

Question:

96. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the review of evidence which has taken place for fiscal measures on products that are high in fat, sugar and salt to reduce their consumption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11551/19]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 to 96, inclusive, together.

Sugar Sweetened Drinks Tax (SSDT) was introduced on 1 May 2018 and applies when sugar sweetened drinks are first supplied in the State. SSDT applies on a volumetric basis at one of two rates, dependent on the total sugar content of the ‘ready to consume’ form of the sugar sweetened drink: €16.26 per hectolitre on drinks with a total sugar content of at least five and less than eight grams per 100 millilitres and €24.39 per hectolitre on drinks with a total sugar content of eight grams or more per 100 millilitres.

Revenue has advised that SSDT yield for 2018 totalled €16.51m and that at the end of February 2019 SSDT yield for 2019 totalled €6.5m. The SSDT yield estimate for 2019 is €35m.

In response to Ireland’s formal notification of the tax, the European Commission confirmed that the measures did not constitute a State aid under EU rules. This decision was given on the basis that Ireland had committed to extend the scope of the tax to certain drinks, within CN Code heading 2202, that do not meet specific health benefit criteria, defined as containing at least 119 milligrams of calcium per 100 millilitres.

In order to meet this commitment, SSDT legislation was amended in Finance Act 2018 to bring defined categories of drinks that do not contain at least 119 milligrams of calcium per 100 millilitres within scope of SSDT. The legislative amendments, which came into effect on 1 January 2019, impacted on sugar sweetened plant protein drinks and drinks containing milk fats, that fall within CN Code heading 2202. These drinks, that were previously excluded from taxation, are subject to SSDT if they have a total sugar content of 5 grams or more per 100 millilitres and do not carry nutritional information indicating a calcium content of at least 119 milligrams per 100 millilitres.

The types of drinks within CN Code heading 2202 that were impacted by the legislative changes are those covered by five specific subheadings;

a) Plant protein drinks such as those based on soya, nuts, cereals and seeds (covered by CN Code subheadings 2202 99 11, 2202 99 15);

b) Drinks containing milk fats (covered by CN Code subheadings 2202 99 91, 2202 99 95 and 2202 99 99)

Information is not available on the number of products affected by the imposition of a calcium threshold and I am advised that Revenue does not maintain a list of products that are liable to SSDT.

The commencement of the SSDT on 1 May last was in line with one of the recommendations in the National Obesity Policy and Action Plan. It represents a positive step in our national policy to deal with the problem of obesity. Work is underway on the development of an evaluation framework for this tax in conjunction with the Department of Health.

The question of considering further fiscal measures similar to the SSDT is being kept under review in conjunction with the Dept of Health and the National Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group. We are in the early implementation phase of the SSDT and the priority of my Department is to ensure that this is a success rather than to plan for the introduction of any new taxes with a similar purpose.