Sugary Drink Excise Tax Development in Barbados:

Like many other places in the world, Barbados is facing serious problems with type 2 diabetes. In fact, it has been suggested that Barbados is “on the verge of a national crisis with regards to persistent health problems associated with the escalating level of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).”

Type 2 diabetes is a major cause of sickness, amputation and morbidity on the island; and research has shown that the incidence of type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to high consumption of sugars and sweetened beverages in particular.

The availability of sweetened drinks and juices in Barbados is due to importation and domestic production, and recent analyses have shown that they contain high amounts of sugar, syrup and other high calorie sweeteners.

Given the state of crisis in Barbados, the Government has been petitioned to urgently address this particular issue. The Government has decided to introduce a 10% excise tax levied on the value of sweetened beverages before VAT is applied. This will not apply to beverages containing intrinsic sugars only. It is expected to generate in excess of $10 million in revenue this fiscal year.  The policy will be reviewed in two years’ time to determine how effective it has been in changing the behaviours of both producers, importers and consumers. The policy will take effect from August 1, 2015.