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NCD taxation policy assessment to tackle NCD crisis in Tonga

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03rd September, 2018 The Acting Minister for Finance and National Planning and Minister for Revenue and Customs, Hon. Mateni Tapueluelu opened a one-day stakeholders consultation workshop on ‘Improving the use of taxation policy on tobacco, alcohol, food and beverages as a response to the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) crisis in Tonga’, this morning at Tanoa International Hotel.

Hon. Tapueluelu said various programmes and projects have been initiated to address non-communicable diseases.

“Since the last United Nations High Level Meeting in New York City in September 2011, Tonga is one of the few Pacific Island countries that have implemented various programme in the recent past to curb the rising tide of NCD burden in the Pacific.”

“Amongst interventions, Tonga has used taxation policy on sin taxes such as taxes on tobacco, unhealthy food and alcohol to influence consumer choice and behavior. In 2013, policies were implemented on food products, tobacco and alcohol. Since then, the Government of Tonga has added further taxation policies through amendments to the current national tariff schedule.”

He said that it is important to monitor the implementation, outcome and impact these interventions have, which will assist policymakers make well informed decisions on the way forward to improve the health of all Tongans.

“The Ministry of Finance and National Planning in November 2016, therefore formally requested the World Bank to conduct an assessment on these specific taxation policies and the World Bank team will share the findings from the assessment at this workshop. In a brief consultation with Dr. Sutayut Osorn – prasop from the World Bank – the summary of findings is very interesting and I look forward to this being shared with you today.”

“It is important to note that the objective of the workshop is not only to share findings and recommendations of the NCD taxation policy assessment with key stakeholders, but also to solicit their feedback before finalizing the report and dissemination. The workshop will also provide stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the findings and recommendations during group work and consider implications to improve future policy implementation.

He urged participants from the Community Organizations to share their views and opinions on the way forward, based on the information shared.

“We can say at the end of today, the strategic way forward was based on a collaborative consultation with relevant representatives and organizations. This multi-sectorial approach is in line with the Tonga National NCD Committee initiative and the National NCD Strategic Plan – the Hala Fononga 2015 -2020.”

The NCD taxation policy assessment was requested by the Government of Tonga and is led by the World Bank in collaboration with partners.

He acknowledged the support from the partners including Tonga Health Promotion Foundation, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Health Organization, Government of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as the Government of Tonga.

Participants include Dr. Sutayut Osornprasop and a team from World Bank, Cabinet ministers, Australian and New High Commissioner, Government CEOs and government officials.

ENDS

Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communications.

 

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