CNMI one step away from sugar tax

3:47 pm on 28 April 2016
Bottles of soft drinks, isolated on a white background. (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

A bill introducing a sugar tax has cleared the Northern Marianas legislature and is awaiting the Governor's signature before it becomes law.

The law will impose a four-cent per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, powders and syrups.

The measure passed the House after it approved the Senate's amendments in a 10-9 vote.

While health officials celebrated the sugar tax bill's passage, the islands' business community was upset with the proposed up to 100-percent increase on taxes for commodities it said are vital to their enterprises.

Business leaders argue that not only would the tax jack up prices of certain products in the market, it would also serve as a precedent for taxing other commodities lawmakers might find unhealthy .

Coca-Cola Beverage Micronesia said the sugar tax would increase the price of a case of soda by nearly 12 US dollars.

Restaurant owner Glen Hunter said syrup for coffee would go up from $138 per pack to $700.