Romania announced Tuesday plans to levy a tax on sugary soft drinks to combat obesity, following the lead of other European countries such as France. “This tax is aimed at discouraging consumption (of sugary drinks) and increasing public revenues, which could be spent on health and education,” the finance ministry said in a document made public Tuesday.
“The obesity epidemic in the European Union is an enormous burden on health systems,” the document said. The new levy should raise 66 million euros ($74 million) over the rest of 2019 and will come as part of a broader budget review which will also see tax rises on tobacco and budget cuts in certain areas of public spending. The left-wing government is trying to stick a public deficit target of 2.76 per cent this year, but the task has been made harder by increases in pensions and public sector wages brought in in 2018. The centre-right opposition mocked the new tax, pointing out that a similar proposal brought forward by the liberal USR party in April was rejected by the government at the time. Romania’s soft drinks manufacturers’ association condemned the tax as “discriminatory” and said it would damage the sector, which accounts for some 60,000 jobs. According to the KeysFin consultancy, the sweetened drinks market in Romania is worth some 1.2 billion euros.