Wide Angle

Instead of applying taxes on the sugar used in sodas, Morocco subsidizes diabetes

Sweet diet and diabetes : the alarm was sounded a few years ago, but Morocco chooses to look elsewhere. While in France the «soda tax» has been toughened up, in Morocco, the government still struggles to lift subsidies on the sugar bought by the soda industry.

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Announced a few months ago, the subsidy covering the purchase of sugar has not been lifted yet. Indeed, Morocco's Minister of General Affairs and Governance, Lahcen Daoudi had announced, at the time, that the issue «is being discussed by the government».

The objective of the project was to implement a gradual decompensation that will begin in 2018 and lead to a definitive deletion in 2020. Faced with the outcry of the agribusiness industry, the matter seems to be forgotten. 

Heavily affected by diabetes, Morocco, unlike the rest of the world, funds with public money the sugar used in sodas and other biscuits and candy. As a matter of fact, in 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on governments to tax sweetened beverages to combat obesity. The UN agency recalls that one out of every three adults is overweight and believes that taxation could reduce the consumption of these products of harmful effects.

Morocco, swimming against the current

Some countries took the lead even before the WHO’s warning. In 2012, France has applied taxes on the sugar used in sodas. Years after the measure was implemented, the tax generated mixed opinions, since it had a direct impact on households, who felt that this tax had reduced their purchasing power. Less than two years after soda sales decreased by 4%.

In Mexico, the largest consumer of sodas in the world followed France’s footsteps in 2014. The same year, the consumption of fizzy drinks decreased by 6%. Great news for the country where diabetes is the leading cause of death for women and the second for men.

However, a modest awareness had started in Morocco in 2012. There were ideas, suggesting to «refund of the entire subsidy granted to sugar», purchased by manufacturers. More than 6 years later, the sugar subsidy used by manufacturers made the government pay 200 to 250 million dirhams. A significant amount that, in other words, affect negatively the health of Moroccans.

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