Proposed sugar tax not so sweet for CNMI businesses

3:07 pm on 26 April 2016

The Northern Marianas business community has cried foul over a proposed sugar tax that has passed the House of Representatives and is headed back to the Senate.

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce described the policy as an overreach and said the government was acting like big brother.

The chamber said the bill, which proposes to tax sugar-sweetened beverages, would substantially increase the cost not only of soda drinks, but also of carbonated fruit juices, iced teas and other products.

It said if passed, the law could be a precedent to tax other food products.

The chamber said that if the reason to introduce the tax was to help the territory's lone hospital, then the government should just regain the hospital's management.

The islands' largest business group also says the bill reaches too far into regulating personal consumption.

Citizen activist Glenn Hunter said the bill would make sugar-sweetened beverages the most taxed commodity in the Northern Marianas, higher than cigarettes and alcohol.