Government Says Entire Tax Hike on Sugary Drinks to be Canceled3 min read
The previous government of Israel had introduced a special tax on sweetened drinks as part of a push to cut down on the consumption of unhealthy beverages.
On Sunday, the new government voted in favor of canceling the said tax, which had been criticized by the Haredi, or the ultra-Orthodox, community.
They had claimed that the move had been deliberately made against them and had demanded that it be repealed.
The tax on sugary drinks had also come with another one imposed on plastic utensils aimed at single use for reducing the environmental damage.
But, this tax is also being canceled after the ultra-Orthodox also protested against this tax as well. Last week, there had been conflicting reports about the tax on sugary drinks.
A report had indicated that Aryeh Deri, the head of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, has been considering leaving the tax on sugary drinks and only end it for zero-sugar and diet drinks.
This was because a women’s lobby group within Deri’s Shas party had sent him a letter in which they had argued that sugary drinks are not good for the health of their families.
The letter had requested that the tax remain in place for sugary drinks.
However, the report had seen Deri’s base react angrily and they welcomed the vote in favor of the tax’s cancellation on Sunday.
A statement was also issued saying that they had promised to cancel the tax and this is exactly what they were doing.
Last month, in his first act as Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich had told ministry officials to roll back the tax hikes on sweetened drinks and single-use plasticware that Avigdor Liberman, his predecessor had implemented.
The tax hikes had been aimed at reducing the damage to the environment and health, but the ultra-orthodox people, who rely on these products, said that the hikes were targeting them in particular.
Soft drinks are widely consumed by the Haredi community and they also rely on plasticware because they have large families and do not want to wash a huge number of dishes.
Leading health scholars had written in The Lancet, a medical journal, earlier this month that removing the tax on sugary drinks would be seriously damaging to public health and tarnish Israel’s image internationally.
Deri had been appointed as the interior and health minister last year when the new government was established, but he had been fired reluctantly by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
This was after a High Court ruling that he was unfit for being a minister because of his recent tax offenses.
Deri is planning on returning to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and his previous posts after a bill had been approved on Sunday for ending all oversight from the court over the minister selection.
This is part of a wider judicial overhaul that has been planned by the new government, but critics have warned that it could undermine the democratic foundations of the country.