Beritasatu, Jakarta – The government still has no plans to impose an excise tax on sweetened beverages in the foreseeable future, despite concerns that sugary drinks can lead to diabetes in children.
An excise on sweetened drinks would have to take into account the post-Covid economy, an official at the Finance Ministry said.
"We do not have any plans for that [excise]. We are currently looking at Indonesia's economic growth in 2023," Askolani, the ministry's director-general for customs and excise, said earlier this week.
Askolani previously had said that there were many things to consider before the government could implement an excise on sugar-sweetened drinks. Some factors include global and national economic conditions. Other factors such as economic recovery, inflation, industry, and health issues also come into play, according to Askolani.
Indonesian consumer group YLKI has urged the government to impose the excise this year.
"If we [push it back to] 2024 or 2025, they are synonymous with the political year. The impact of postponing the excise on sugar-sweetened beverages will be even bigger. It is about time for the Finance Ministry to implement the excise to protect the people," YLKI chairman Tulus Abadi said.
Think-tank Center for Indonesia's Strategic Development Initiatives (CISDI) is also calling for excise on sweetened drinks. The lack of regulations on its ads, promotions, and sponsors has made sugary drinks more appealing to young people. As a result, its consumers continue to rise, and people become under the impression that there is nothing wrong with drinking sweetened beverages despite their health risks.
Pediatrician consultant Hartono Gunardi warned the overconsumption of sugary drinks could promote obesity in children. Obesity increases the risks of many serious diseases.
"Overconsumption of sugary drinks can lead to obesity. For children they will likely have diabetes when they grow up. However, it does not mean that children who drink sweetened beverages are sure to have diabetes. There are other factors," Hartono said.
A recent report by the Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) has sparked calls for excise on sugary drinks. IDAI revealed that diabetes mellitus prevalence in Indonesian children has jumped by seventyfold in Jan. 2023 compared to 2010 figures.
About 1,645 children in 13 cities are suffering from diabetes. Most of these patients come from Jakarta and Surabaya, data showed.