The government of Thailand is inching towards the introduction of an excise health tax on high sodium, processed foods, Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told a press briefing.
While declining to specify the date when taxes will be enforced and the excise health tax rate, he said Thais consume more than 3,600 milligrams of sodium per day, higher than the WHO’s recommendation of no more than 2,000 mg per day.
According to Arkhom, a tax on salty processed foods would encourage manufacturers to reduce the sodium content.
He said the tax is intended to reduce sodium consumption by 20% to no more than 2,800 mg per person daily during the initial phase.
Mr. Arkhom said high sodium levels have been linked to high blood pressure, kidney and heart problems.
Deputy principal adviser for the Excise Department on the development of the Excise Control System, Nutthakorn Utensute, said the health tax targets instant noodles, frozen foods, snacks, and seasoning sauces.
According to him, the sodium consumption tax will be enforced gradually with a goal of curbing sodium consumption to no more than 2,800 mg per person per day. This will be done within eight years.
Over the course of three meals, this amounts to roughly 900 mg per person per meal, according to Nutthakorn.
A food with a sodium level higher than 900 mg is likely to have a higher tax than one with a lower level, he said.