Youth Parliament Debates Sales Tax Amendments


The Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax Amendment Bill 2024, introduced in parliament on Friday, aims to tackle the rising rates of non-communicable diseases by increasing taxes on sugary foods and using the proceeds to subsidize healthier options.

The Pan-American Health Organization has flagged diabetes and hypertension as the leading causes of death in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Youth Parliament supports the amendment, calling for expanded public education and assistance in creating meal plans. Youth parliamentarian and National Youth Ambassador Shaquan O’Neal proposed a new breakfast program for secondary school students, pointing out the national school meals program’s focus on primary schools.

Opposition members criticized the bill for its lack of explicit provisions to subsidize healthy foods, demanding clear commitments in the legislation. Despite these critiques, there was agreement on the urgency of addressing health issues.

“We must implement proactive measures to reduce consumption and the occurrence of preventable diseases,” one speaker stated. “This amendment presents an opportunity for the government to generate revenue that can be reinvested in the healthcare system.”

The bill was passed after several amendments.

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  1. I am very proud when our youth, the leaders of tomorrow, are taking part in the social issues that are plaguing our country. It is good for our politicians to give them an ear. As I said they are tomorrows leaders.
    This issue of Sales Tax as a policy tool needs to be discussed in several community groups. It can be used to make goods more expensive or cheaper. Like we have the basket of foods that attracts no ABST. Therefore we can have several tiers of ABST. I suggest Zero Rated, Low Rated, Mid Rated and High Rated. Zero Rated can be goods that attract Zero Percent Tax, Low Rated could be set at 5% ABST, Mid Rated could be goods that attract 15% ABST and High Rated goods that attract 25% ABST. Given what the government want to achieve such as reduce alcohol consumption, set the tax rate at High 25%. Sugary Beverage could also be set at 25%. And so on if you get the message.

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