Sweetened drinks on supermarket shelves
Sweetened drinks on supermarket shelvesPhoto by Nati Shohat/Flash90

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) is planning to levy a tax on sweetened drinks, Walla! reported.

A draft of the bill exposed by Walla! showed that it is a set tax and that its purported purpose is to "reduce excess morbidity caused by the consumption of high-sugar drinks."

The tax will be between 1.61 shekel and 2.89 shekel per liter of sweet drink. It will not include water, carbonated water, milk, plant-based milk alternatives, alcoholic drinks, and hot drinks such as coffee and tea. The guiding principle will be that the more sugar a drink contains, the higher the tax on it will be.

The price of a bottle of cola, for example, will rise from 6.5 shekel to 9.8 shekel - a 51% increase.

"In recent years, there has been a worrying trend of increasing obesity among Israeli citizens," the bill adds. "Forty-eight percent of Israelis ages 20 and up are overweight, especially among the weaker segments of the population, and especially among younger people."

The bill also noted the increased risk of diabetes, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure which result from obesity, and that 43% of Israeli children consume sweetened drinks on a daily basis, placing Israel fourth in this regard among the OECD countries.

It is expected that raising the price of sweetened drinks will reduce consumption, resulting in a significant long-term improvement in citizens' health.

Walla! quoted sources involved in the bill as noting that it is "full of holes," and includes flavored water and drinks which have reduced sugar or no sugar at all. According to them, this shows that the rationale is to levy a "hidden tax," and not to "reduce morbidity" at all.

The site also noted that sweetened drinks comprise just 15% of high-sugar products, and it is not clear why they are being singled out from the other 85%.

On Monday, Liberman announced that he would implement a new tax on the manufacture and import of plastic disposables.