(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Muscat- Oman will raise taxes on tobacco, alcohol, soft drinks and energy drinks from June, according to the National Tobacco Control Committee (NTCC) rapporteur. Increasing taxes on fast food is also on the agenda as authorities are looking to control the spread of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) which have risen sharply in the sultanate over the last few years.
Dubbed as 'sin tax', the new excise tax to be imposed on selected goods and beverages seen to have a level of harm associated with their consumption, was first unveiled in Oman's 2017 budget.
Tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and energy drinks will attract an excise tax of 100 per cent, while that on fizzy drinks will be 50 per cent.
The step is based on the decision taken by the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council at its 36th session held in Riyadh in 2015. Following this, Saudi Arabia announced the introduction of excise tax in June 2017, the UAE followed with effect from October 2017 and Bahrain from December 30, 2017.
Dr Jawad al Lawati, rapporteur at NTCC, said that the excise tax will be levied by mid-year. 'Oman has signed the regional agreement with GCC on the excise tax. Now, the national authorities (Oman, Qatar and Kuwait) have to ratify it before it is implemented. In Oman, it is expected to start from June,' he said, adding that only Qatar and Kuwait are lagging behind.
Dr Lawati said that the new tax will be levied on the sale price. 'With this, the tax on tobacco products will be a mix of customs duties and excise tax.'
Oman had, in September 2016, increased taxes on tobacco products by 100 per cent. This was the first time the government had raised tax on tobacco products in the past 17 years.
Dr Lawati added that taxes on fast food will soon be a reality. 'Authorities in Oman are now convinced about it. The rate of morbidity and mortality due to NCDs is rising. The WHO focus is on NCDs as communicable diseases have been under control. What is going out of control is diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and drug abuse.'
He said that GCC countries have also signed an agreement to implement the value added tax (VAT), which would result in additional five per cent tax on most products and services.
According to Oman's state budget, VAT was initially expected to be implemented by the middle of 2018, however it has now been postponed until the beginning of 2019.
According to WHO, in Oman, NCDs cause 68 per cent of total deaths and 18 per cent of these deaths occur amongst people between the ages of 30 and 70 years.
This means that nearly one of every five adults dies from NCDs before they should.
In April 2016, the United Nations Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of NCDs carried out a joint mission in Oman to support the government in its efforts to tackle NCDs.
The joint mission learnt that despite progress in addressing NCDs and their risk factors a large majority of Omani adults have insufficient intake of fruits and vegetables, that 40 per cent are physically inactive and one in seven Omani men consume tobacco. More than 40 per cent of adult Omanis have hypertension and 12 per cent have been diagnosed with diabetes.