A LEADING Navan dentist has urged the Government to ring-fence the €40m in revenue expected to be generated from the new sugar tax for educating children and families on the importance of diet and to curb the increase in medical and dental intervention.
The new levy which comes into effect on 1st May will apply to sugar-sweetened drinks with a sugar content of between five and eight grams per 100ml, at a rate of 20c per litre, and 30c per litre for anything over eight grams.
The levy was supposed to come into being on 7th April, but was put back until 1st May pending formal EU approval.
Tax advisory giant Deloitte had called for further delays on its introduction until July to allow beverage companies time to ready themselves, however this was rejected by Government.
With the move expected to see an increase in the cost of a can of soft drink by 10c, the annual windfall for the exchequer could be €40m.
“It’s a privilege to work in an era when even the most extreme cases of decay and tooth loss can be, for all intents and purposes, completely restored,” says Dr David Murnaghan of Boyne Dental & Implant Clinic in Navan.
But he maintains no one can dispute that prevention is the best policy.
“It’s cheaper, easier and safer than any high-tech intervention. However, we do such a poor job getting this message out that half of adults only visit the dentist in an emergency. Children meanwhile have more than 10,000 extractions a year under general anaesthetic, the most traumatic and expensive context imaginable.
“I would like to encourage the government to ring-fence and put the tax back into education and prevention of diet and increased medical/dental attendance.”
Earlier this year, David Murnaghan hit the headlines when he extracted 27 teeth from Ashbourne man Michael Sheridan (see video above) who had left his teeth decay and rot through a combination of neglect and addiction to sugary drinks. Next month, father of three Michael will return to the Clinic on Ludlow Street to have permanent implants fitted.
“Michael's case was very extreme but we are seeing more and more cases where neglect and or a high-sugar diet has had a devastating effect on children’s dental health”.
The Department of Finance is confident of getting the formal EU go-ahead in the coming days and introducing the levy next month.
A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said it wasn't their decision on where the money raised from the new taxation would go but did confirm that the levy would come into effect on May 1st.
“The tax is due to be made to Revenue and comprehensive guidelines are available on their website. Sugar-sweetened drinks suppliers will be required to file a Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Tax return and pay any liability arising no later than one month after the end of a two month accounting period.
“The estimated yield is in the region of €40m for a full year. The yield could potentially decrease over time as consumers opt for cheaper non-tax products combined with continued industry reformulation.
The spokesperson added that the Department of Finance was opposed to the direction of where revenue funds go as it “reduces the flexibility of the Government to prioritise and allocate funds as necessary at a particular time.”
“An annual budget is allocated to the Department of Health as part of the estimates process and that is assigned according to the needs within that Department, including in relation to measures to tackle the problem of obesity.”
Some businesses have already made alterations to their products to avoid being affected by the introduction of the new levy.
Tesco Ireland said it will not need to increase the price of its own-label carbonated soft drinks as all have already been reformulated to have their sugar content reduced in readiness for the introduction of the tax.