Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from Facebook

The Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday (Aug 22) announced that it is now “studying” sugar tax following dictator Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech on diabetes. The MOH has created a committee, “Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce”, to implement the sugar tax:

“The Diabetes Prevention and Care Taskforce will consult stakeholders in the coming months to discuss these ideas and the implementation details.”

It is unknown how much the sugar tax will translate into price increases for Singaporeans, but sugar being a staple food product, will likely increase the prices of coffeeshop food.

According to the MOH, seven beverage producers – Coca Cola, F&N Foods, Malaysia Dairy Industries, Nestle, PepsiCo, Pokka and Yeo Hiap Seng – have “pledged” to reduce sugar content by no more than 12% in their drinks. Propaganda state media claimed that 12% means a maximum of 39.6g of sugar in a 330ml can of drink. A check on a can of 330ml Coca Cola canned drink was found to have only 35g of sugar, it is hence unknown whether the new regulation is going to make any difference.

Drinks prices in coffeeshops have recently increased 10 to 20 cents per cup of coffee due to the 30% increase in water price by the government. A new sugar tax will likely drive up the price by another 10 cent, making an average cup of coffee in kopitiams S$1.20.