My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Min. of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson Junk Food Tax for Jamaican Students Addiction to Fast Food

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Min. of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson Junk Food Tax for Jamaican Students Addiction to Fast Food

Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson seems to be on a good roll of late. This as he’s now planning to implement the much talked about Tax on Fast Food as stated in the article “Fast food tax being proposed to finance public health care”, Published Wednesday November 13, 2013 | 10:10, The Jamaica Gleaner. He was speaking at the 8th Caribbean Conference on Health Financing Initiatives on Tuesday November 12th 2013 at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel.

Additionally he’s recommending the following:

1.      Tax on Insurance companies which will be set aside in the case of automobile accidents, effectively Accident Insurance
2.      Compulsory Health Insurance for all citizens of Jamaica

Not so sure about the first one but the second one is a good idea, so long as you can prevent abuse of the system by making sure applicants are indeed Jamaicans. Additionally, it’ll complement the Health Insurance Cards such as JADEP and other it has replaced, giving Jamaicans comprehensive Health Insurance for both Medications as well as Doctor Visits to Public hospitals.

All financed by Taxes on Unhealthy Eating and Insurance Companies, money which may be invested further in portfolios of Equity or Debt Instruments both  Local and Foreign to generate enough revenue to make it sustainable. All in a bid to fight Jamaica’s growing waistline and our young children’s addiction to American Style Fast Food.

This is the second time that Dr. Fenton Ferguson has made mention of the idea of a Fast Food Tax, the first being at a Public Consultation held on the grounds of the Spanish Town Hospital on Tuesday July 9th 2013 as stated in the article “Health Tax proposed at St Catherine public consultation”, published Wednesday, July 10, 2013 5:39 PM, The Jamaica Observer and “Health minister puts fast-food tax on the table - Gov't facilitates consultation on hospital user-fee policy”, published Monday June 10, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Fast Food Tax Opponents – KFC says it not Finger Licking Good for Business

At the time, Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson had also proposed a “Junk Food” Tax aimed at fatty and sugary snacks, confectionaries and Soft Drinks, effectively a Sin Tax on Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) and Millennials (ages 18 to 28) who just can’t do without their regular Junk Food Fix.

Ditto too for generation X (ages 29 to 45) and older as we too are slowly becoming addicted to the Fast Food Lifestyle as can be seen by this Burger Kind Ad. The aim is really to safeguard the nation’s Health and finance the ever-burgeoning Health Sector Bill by Taxing our love for Unhealthy Food to subsidize the Health Sector.

While he’s at it, Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson also needs to Ban Advertisements for Fast Food companies as the addictive nature of Fast Food suggests that it’s just as addictive as cigarettes, thus necessitating a similar Ban. This as it’s evident that most of their advertisements deliberately Target High School Children, even portraying their desperation for a snack even after the Fast Food Restaurant has closed.

He needs to prepare for a fight. Already Managing Director of the KFC and Pizza Hut franchises Mark Myers is opposed to this planned measure as stated in the article “Fast food operator says no to taxing sector”, published Thursday November 14, 2013 7:02 am, RJR News Online. His claim is that it'll kill their business that's already struggleing, as they'd have to pass any new Taxes unto the consumer for Food that's already overtaxed, quote: “Any additional taxes placed on any segment of the economy is not really a tax on the business, but rather a further tax on the consumer. And as we all know, the economy that we are facing the consumer is under a lot of pressure; they are really over burdened with taxation”.

But this has always been the case that Big businesses are opposed to any loss of their profits whenever Governments implements such measures. This is currently the case in Mexico, where a similar Fast Food and Junk Food Tax measures has already been being implemented as stated in the article “Mexican Senate Approves Tax Reform; Junk Food Will Be Taxed 8% Along With Soda”, published October 31 2013 2:46 PM By Patricia Rey Mallen, ibTimes.

This may be the true source of the inspiration of the Health Ministries researchers, who may have been following the events in Mexico. In their country, billionaire Eva Gonda Rivera and family, José and Francisco Calderón Rojas and the Servitje family have been lobbying against the Mexican Government Fast Food Taxes for years as stated in “Mexico's Proposed Tax On Soda, Junk Food Opposed by Billionaire Beverage And Food Barons”, published 10/28/2013 @ 4:50PM, by Dolia Estevez, Forbes Magazine.

Eva Gonda Rivera and family, José and Francisco Calderón Rojas own considerable interest in Femsa, Mexico’s largest Coca-Cola bottler with US$18.5 billion in annual revenue and the Servitje family owns Bimbo, a US$13.42 billion Baker, the largest in Latin America and distributor of brands such as Sara Lee, Entemann’s, and Thomas’s English Muffins. So for them, these Taxes aren’t a death knell, but loss of Billions in Profits!

Unhealthy Eating Tax History – Legislation against a Bad Social Habit that’s Costing GOJ

The idea of a Tax on Fast Food and Junk Food isn’t new. I’d actually suggested the very same idea back in March 2010 in my blog article entitled “Unhealthy Eating Tax a benefit to the Government Purse and the Public Waistline”. The idea of an Unhealthy Eating Tax was first proposed by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Sheila Campbell-Forrester in 2009 at the Pegasus Hotel to an attentive audience, as stated by the article “Fat Jamaica worries health officials” published Friday August 28, 2009, Sophia Hanniford-Bartley and Gareth Manning, The Daily Gleaner.

According to the statistics presented back then to quote Dr Sheila Campbell-Forrester : “The total economic burden (of lifestyle diseases) is in the region of $1.6 billion for diabetes and from hypertension $1.2 billion”. That was the cost of taking care of Jamaicans who had Cancer, Diabetes, Heart attack and other Chronic non-communicable or so-called Lifestyle diseases.
Her comments back then makes sense and so does the recent words offered by Dr. Fenton Ferguson  suggestions; Taxpayers dollars shouldn’t be spent on taking care of persons because they choose to eat and live a way that predisposes them to having chronic, incurable diseases that are preventable.

All of which are curable via eating more fruits and vegetables and less Processed Foods as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Jamaica's Basic Item Food Bill mostly from 1st World Countries - Buy Jamaican Build Jamaica made from Imported Raw Materials in containers that says Made in Jamaica”.

Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture – Partners in National Healthy Food Policy

The Ministry of Health should move quickly to implement these recommendations, as with increasing incidences of Lifestyle Diseases, a solution is needed to finance our Addiction. Best too, the Ministry of Health needs to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture in a National Healthy food Policy.

The aim is to target Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) and Millennials (ages 18 to 28) and replace unhealthy Junk Food with Jamaican fruits and vegetables as opined in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Agriculture to approve Fruit and Liquified Eggs for School Feeding Program even as Pork faces Glut - How Solar Farming will make Jamaica's Food Security Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”.

By doing this, it’ll not only reduce the Health Bill related to Non-communicable Diseases but also reduce our Food Importation Bill in the long run by curing Jamaican High Schoolers Addiction to American style Fast Food.

No comments: