Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Romania mulls junk food tax

BUCHAREST (AFP) – Romania is planning to introduce a tax on junk food in order to finance its crisis-hit health system and to fight obesity, Health Minister Attila Cseke said Tuesday.

"We intend to introduce a tax on fast food, soft drinks and candies in order to support national health programs," Cseke said during a press conference in Bucharest.

He later added that the tax could bring around one billion euros (1.45 billion dollars) to his ministry's budget.

Romania's public health system suffers from chronical lack of funds. In 2010, the state could have problems financing some medical infrastructure and buying some medicine, the minister said.

One Romanian out of four suffers from obesity, according to the Romanian nutrition federation.

A special nutrition commission at the ministry level will be in charge of designing this special tax levied on food deemed unhealthy.

The minister added that he will be holding talks with the main producers and distributors of junk food.

American group McDonald's is currently the fast food leader in Romania with revenues of 108 million euros in 2008, according to financial daily Ziarul Financiar.

Taiwan is also planning a tax on junk food in a bid to encourage the public to eat healthily and cut obesity rates, a report said Monday. France mulled such a tax in 2008 but gave up on the project.

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