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CNMI businesses oppose fat tax plan

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce is opposed to taxing unhealthy foods in the Northern Marianas.

The CNMI’s Vice-Speaker Felicidad Ogumoro has proposed a tax on unhealthy food, as well as alcohol and tobacco, to help pay the public hospital’s debt and promote healthy lifestyles.

But the Chamber’s executive director, Richard Pierce, says the bill doesn’t promote healthy living, and is just a way to make consumers pay for bad political decisions.

“The chamber would be a lot less likely to oppose the bill if it stuck on items that actually present health risk. Those of course would be beer, liquor, tobacco, even gambling, I don’t see that on the list. I would be more in favour of increasing taxes on gambling than I would on ice-cream.”

Richard Pierce says there are other ways to promote healthy lifestyles, such as exercise programmes, that would be far more effective and not hurt businesses.