Finance committee against adopting sweetened beverage tax unchanged

Finance Committee chair MP Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Center).
Finance Committee chair MP Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Center). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

The Finance Committee of the Riigikogu on Monday discussed the law on the taxation of sweetened beverages that the president vetoed at the beginning of July, and decided not to support its adoption again without changes.

Committee chairman Mihhail Stalnuhhin (Center) said that on one hand, the committee kept in mind last week's decision by the Constitutional Committee that the law was not at odds with the Constitution. This conviction was also shared by the majority of the Finance Committee, spokespeople for the Riigikogu said.

The committee found that the law should be opened for revision, if only because if it is adopted anew unchanged, not enough time would be left between the adoption of the regulation and its entering into force. It would also offer the opportunity to eliminate potential implementation-related problems, which the president also referred to in her veto decision.

Minister of Finance Toomas Tõniste (IRL), who was present at the Finance Committee meeting, said that the 2018 state budget did not take revenue from the implementation of the tax into account.

"Therefore, the Finance Committee decided not to support adopting the law unchanged," Stalnuhhin said. He noted that the sweetened beverage tax would not enter into force on Jan. 1, 2018, and clarity regarding the rest could be expected in the spring, during budget strategy talks.

The Constitutional Committee, which discussed the matter last week, decided that although the law did not run counter to the Constitution, the committee, in view of giving up the sweetened beverage tax, did not support adopting the law again unchanged.

That there will be no sweetened beverage tax next year can be seen in the 2018 state budget bill approved by the Cabinet two weeks ago.

On June 19, the Riigikogu approved 52-37 a law on the taxation of sweetened beverages, according to which all sweetened drinks containing more than five grams of sugar per 100 milliliters will be taxed. The Riigikogu then sent the law to the President of Estonia to be proclaimed.

On July 3, however, the president vetoed the law.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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