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Raise taxes on alcohol & cigarettes, not junk foods- VISTS debaters

- overcomes BVI SDA School in preliminary round of Inter-Secondary Schools Debate 2017
Anya Stevens of the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies debating the topic: Higher Tax should be levied on junk foods. Photo: VINO
Noah Spencer of VISTS shakes hand with students of the BVI SDA School following their debate. Photo: VINO
Noah Spencer of VISTS shakes hand with students of the BVI SDA School following their debate. Photo: VINO
Best Speaker Janallia George of the BVI Seventh-day Adventist School. Photo: VINO
Best Speaker Janallia George of the BVI Seventh-day Adventist School. Photo: VINO
Daveon Tapper of the BVI Seventh-day Adventist School. Photo: VINO
Daveon Tapper of the BVI Seventh-day Adventist School. Photo: VINO
Gracelyn Pickering of the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies (VISTS). Photo: VINO
Gracelyn Pickering of the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies (VISTS). Photo: VINO
PARAQUITA BAY, Tortola, VI- In a unanimous decision following a 28- point difference, the Opposition Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies (VISTS) emerged the winner in the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Inter-Secondary School Debate 2017 on the topic: Higher tax should be levied on ‘Junk Foods’.

It was a preliminary round contest, which took place at the Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) on Monday January 30, 2017.

The judging criteria were based on the soundness of points, logical development, audibility and clarity, personality, command of the material.

The proposition was the BVI Seventh-day Adventist School debaters: Daveon Tapper, Janallia George and Angie Perez, who scored 401 points while the Opposition Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies was represented by Gracelyn Pickering, Anya Stevens and Noah Spencer, 429 points.

In her debate, Daveon Tapper, argued that eating junk foods is synonymous with malnutrition, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and the list goes on.

“Today health diseases overwhelmingly affect all nations with 80 percent of the burden falling on the developing world. In these places, including the BVI, people fall ill sooner, get sicker and die earlier than their wealthier counterparts. In an effort to combat these state of affairs a number of countries have adopted or are considering various forms of legislative action to curb junk food consumption,” Tapper said.

According to her, given the long-term health care required for those affected by Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCD), they are batting for higher taxes on junk foods, which in their opinion are the culprits.

Prevention is better than cure

Best Speaker Janallia George, another member of the proposing team, stated that Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD’s) have overtaken infectious diseases as the leading cause of death worldwide and prevention is key.

“Prevention must now be the cornerstone of the global response to NCD’s but prevention has to overcome a number of obstacles to be successful.”

Some of the obstacles include the politicians placing the issue on the back burner, popularity, and appeal of the junk foods, the high influence of social media where opinions are taken as facts and instantly circulated while scientific and statistical research go out of the window as well as the indiscriminate advertising to children.

“A review of the 2015 and 2016 budget estimate indicate that the social benefit sector which includes health and education were only allocated about 3.5 percent of the total. Additionally, the budget estimate clearly shows a 93 and 94 percent revenue from taxes overall. For 2015 and 2016 respectively while we were unable to verify the taxes received from the sale and import of junk foods. Other research indicates this it will be a minuscule amount.”

On the other hand, the Opposition’s first speaker Gracelyn Pickering contended that some of the so-called CNCD’s are in fact inherited through family genes and it is a difficult task to ascertain if higher taxes on junk food would slow down unhealthy eating choices.

Raise taxes on alcohol & cigarettes instead

Instead, VISTS proposed that rather than raising taxes on junk foods, taxes should be lowered on healthier foods that will make them more appealing and affordable for all.

“They failed to mention that cigarettes and alcohol contribute to various Non-Communicable Diseases. If you are planning to raise taxes, why not raise taxes on such items? Furthermore, raising taxes on everyday foods will affect the everyday shoppers, food handlers, and small businesses. If there are higher levies on junk foods it will trigger other community social issues because a certain percentage of persons cannot afford to buy the basic essentials to sustain themselves.”

VISTS also made reference to single parents who have lost their job and have to provide for their family as these are the kinds of foods many families live on, adding that furthermore raising taxes on junk food cannot guarantee that customers will eat healthier, in fact, this drastic move will force a large percentage of customers to shop elsewhere, like our neighboring USVI, hence causing a loss of revenue for the territory.

Economy can’t sustain more taxes

Another speaker for the Opposition was Anya Stevens, who felt that with the economy as it stands, is unable to bear the burden of more taxes.

“At this particular period in our economy it is not the appropriate time to impose a higher tax on junk food,” she said. According to her, to some, junk food is their comfort or favourite food, while for others it is something cheap and easy to prepare.

“It is not that people do not want to eat healthily, the issue is the cost of the products.”

11 Responses to “Raise taxes on alcohol & cigarettes, not junk foods- VISTS debaters”

  • Yes (01/02/2017, 10:54) Like (2) Dislike (37) Reply
    What is the tax supposed to do? Raise money or stop people from using those products? The new taxes on tobacco and liquor does NEITHER! Any ban or tax increase should be on the sugary poisonous goods on the supermarket shelves but we all know why that wouldn't happen. I'm sure everyone can pronounce what's contained in liquor and tobacco products, try doing that with the stuff being consumed everyday and labelled as 'food'. So sad.
    • @LOL (01/02/2017, 11:23) Like (23) Dislike (1) Reply
      you fool it is just a debate among kids, not house of assembly
    • Reader (02/02/2017, 19:42) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      Good to see you so passionate about taxes, however, 5this was a debate amongst students who did research and tried to win. Please read the WHOLE article before commenting next time.
  • nothing nah ah go happen (01/02/2017, 10:54) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    The big man them selling alcohol and cigarettes while the small man selling junk food.
  • ABC (01/02/2017, 10:58) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Very good debate
  • Youth (01/02/2017, 11:46) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    why raise taxes at all? cut back on the white color crime
  • great (01/02/2017, 15:14) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Congratulations to all the students. You all did well. These debates will help with self confidence and public speaking skills.
  • Rigged (01/02/2017, 19:13) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    o this day I still can't believe the NDP got away with stealing the 2015 election and a few seats in broad daylight and nobody stopped it. The system failed us big time.
    • Really (01/02/2017, 19:19) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
      what the hell does your comment have to do with this article??? Go sit your behind down.

      Congrats to the students, keep pushing forward.
  • Afu (02/02/2017, 08:46) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Let's come up with a SUGARCAKE and JOHNNYCAKE AUCTION instead!!!
  • Mrko (02/02/2017, 10:31) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ban alcohol,junk food,cigarettes and legalize and tax ganja...debate that.


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