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Greece Eyeing Greasy Squeeze?

Fat & Sugar Tax – an old Troika dream to come true?

How much fat has one Souvlaki in pita bread? What’s the percentage of saturated fats in a portion of grilled lamb country style? And how much additional revenues can one triangle of walnuts-phyllo dough soaked in sirup bring to the state? These key questions will have to be answered in painstaking  details, should the Greek government introduce the Fat & Sugar Tax, as the recent scenarios claim.

The idea of a Fat Tax was allegedly proposed by the Troika in February 2014 in order to increase revenues and pour hot euros into the empty pots of the Greek state.

February 2014 Fat Tax proposal

“The technical team of the Troika suggested last week to a top executive of the Finance Ministry to calculate how much revenue would flow to public funds if the fat tax imposed in foods with a high content of saturated fats (butter , cream , milk , cheese , pizza , meat , chocolates , snacks , ketchup , mayonnaise ) .

The proposal is to impose a tax rate ranging from 8% to 10 % and will be added to the products with 13% VAT.

According to the report from the imposition of tax the government can collect from 640 to 800 million € per year.” (KTG 9. Feb 2014)

The measure was not introduced for whatever reasons. Maybe most probably because the measure was mocked from East to the West and from the North to the South of the country.

Nevertheless, the measure came back again and this time was garnished with sugar products.

Most probably the austerity script writers realized that fat alone is not fat enough and that sugar should be added to make it more tasty. For a real balance of taste and revenues, there is also thought to add a special tax to products containing salt as well.

“The tax will be 1 cent of a euro per product,” Greek media wrote over the week end triggering the businessmen anger and consumers’ laughter.

Souvlaki sellers claimed that the fat tax would economically burden the  the national street food. They whined about the economic crisis that has hit the sector and the usual stuff. And this at a time when almost every second business is Greece is a Souvlaki Grill. But deep in their heart, they knew, that if an extra €o.o1 as fat tax will be translated into a €0.10 per souvlaki in real life.

“If there is fat and sugar tax, then light products should have lower tax,” a consumer said.

That’s logical. But rather unlikely to happen. Low-fat, zero-sugar and low-sodium carbonate products are more expensive and no low-incomer or low-pensioner can afford them anyway.

The government downplayed the Fat & Sugar Tax scenarios as “ridiculous”.

It is indeed ridiculous because the jobless and the low pensioners I know tend to buy cheap and preferably food high in carbohydrates food (pasta, pasta, pasta and bread, bread, bread) for the simple reason that it fills up.

The Fat and Sugar Tax is a measure already implemented in the USA and Denmark but the target was “healthy eating habit” and “combat obesity” not the “tax collection.” Meanwhile, Denmark scrapped the Fat Tax after it found out that Danes were shopping fattier food in other neighboring countries

PS What’s the tax for a pinch of salt in meringues?

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Apr 1, 2015 4:18 AM

How over-the-top we would have found this if we’d come across it in a prescient political satire published only 10 years ago…..