Sri Lanka should cut high food taxes to reduce malnutrition: science minister

Nov 08, 2012 (LBO) – Sri Lanka should cut high food taxes which will make proteins more accessible to the poor and reduce malnutrition among small children, science and technology minister Tissa Vitharana has said. “I looked into this question of nutrition, and there is evidence that there is some increase of acute mal-nutrition, really protein malnutrition in the recent past,” minister Vitharana told an economic forum organized the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank in Colombo.

“And one of the factors is the increase in the price of foods. People with the limited incomes, or low incomes are cutting off where it is most costly. That is in the area of protein. That is going to have an adverse effect.”

“I have been advocating that indirect taxes on essentials be totally removed to ensure that people are going to get the basic needs, adequate needs.”

Instead direct taxes should be increased to finance state spending, he said.

According to a demographic heath survey of 2006/7, 16.6 percent of babies in the country were underweight, 21.1 percent of children under five were underweight (low weight for age) 14.7 percent were wasted (low weight for height) and 17.7 percent were stunted.

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