Maldives Customs Service has been confused as to which drinks are deemed most unhealthy to the human body.
The Economic Committee of the Parliament met with three state institutes in the review phase of the bill at Parliament to raise the duty on cigarettes, energy drinks and soft drinks.
And so when Customs Officials were summoned to the Committee, they said that Customs mean soft drinks as any fizzy drink. The Commissioner General of Customs, Ibrahim Shareef said that all non-carbonated drinks are charged 0 percent as duty.
When the Committee members questioned the officials of the Tobacco Control Board and the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the State Minister at the Health Ministry, Dr. Aishath Rameela said that the sugar drinks are the unhealthy drinks and the biggest concern is the rise in sugar based drink products in the country.
Dr. Rameela said that there might be fizzy drinks with 0 percent sugar and even a normal fruit juice can be carbonated. She said that even sparkled water is fizzy and there’s no danger in that.
She noted that drinks with carbonated water are a different category of drinks and their concern is the sugar levels in the drinks.
The State Minister said that both energy drinks and soft drinks are dangerous to health but the energy drinks pose a larger threat as it contains large amounts of caffeine.
State Minister Dr. Rameela repeatedly stated that energy drinks and soft drinks have no benefits and consuming an energy drink before a workout could lead to a heart attack.
The highlight of the session is that Customs have been taking duty from safe fizzy drinks that are not even in the soft drink category.
The bill, put forward on behalf of government by Kudahuvadhoo MP Ahmed Amir proposes increasing import duty on cigarettes to MVR 2 per cigarette, and increasing import duty on energy drinks and soft drinks to MVR 4.60 per liter.