KUALA LUMPUR: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) involved in beverage manufacturing should lower the sugar content in their products to avoid paying sugar tax, says Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
"It should not be a big problem for SMEs as they are able to make adjustments (to sugar content).
"It is more of a problem for producers of the larger branded beverages as they have requirements to meet for their drinks," he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (BN-Lenggong) in Parliament on Thursday (July 11).
Lim said the sugar tax, effective on July 1, was confined to ready-to-drink beverages containing sugar.
"This means that there is no tax on beverages such as Milo, Teh Tarik and coffee prepared by mamak stalls and coffeeshops," he added.
"The excise duty is not on sugar per se but done in a selective manner. The duty is only imposed on sugar content exceeding the permitted threshold," he said.
An excise duty of 40 sen per litre is imposed on manufactured or imported beverages containing sugar exceeding 5g per 100ml, as well as fruit and vegetable juices containing sugar more than 12g per 100ml.
Lim acknowledged that the sugar tax would see an increase in prices for manufactured beverages by 40 sen per liter, 20 sen for 500ml and 10 sen for 250ml drinks.
He said the goal of the sugar tax was to create awareness among manufacturers and consumers on the global trend of reducing sugar intake.
He added this was a preventive measure to help curb the rise in obesity, diabetes and related non-communicable diseases.