I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 to 70, inclusive, together.
The sugar-sweetened drinks tax applies to products if they satisfy three criteria.
The first of which is the Customs Combined Nomenclature Code - the tax applies to fruit juices (CN Code 2009) and waters, including mineral and waters and aerated water (CN Code 2202). The second of which is if they contain added sugar, and the third criteria is if they contain 5 grams of sugar or more per 100 millilitres.
The rationale behind the tax is to help tackle the overweight and obesity problem in Ireland. A small number of exemptions exist for drinks within the CN 2202 category on the basis of the policy rationale for the introduction of the tax. These include, non-alcoholic products as they offer an alternative to alcohol products. Soya, cereal, nut, and seed based drinks offer an alternative to dairy for persons with dietary requirements such as lactose intolerance. Further to this, products with milk fats are exempted as they are comparable to dairy products such as milk. Milk is outside of the tax on the basis of the health benefits it offers such as calcium and protein. For reasons of clarity an amendment to the legislation will be brought forward in this years Finance Bill to impose a calcium threshold on products within these exempt categories.
In order to ensure that the tax is free from State aid a formal notification of Ireland's intention to introduce the tax was submitted to the European Commission earlier this year. The Commission found that the tax, as designed, did not constitute aid.
It is estimated that the yield from the sugar sweetened drinks tax will be of the order of €40m in a full year. The additional tax yield from extending the scope of the tax to the aforementioned products is likely to be very low. In any event, as the design and scope of the tax have been approved by the European Commission it is not possible to alter these without opening up the potential for litigation and consequently the potential to jeopardise the existence of the tax.