By EDDIE OSIFELO
GOVERNMENT has approved the proposal to implement a new tax on white rice commencing September 1.
According to a letter from McKinnie Dentana, permanent secretary of Ministry of Finance and Treasury, cabinet agreed in their meeting on July 22 to introduce a levy of $0.20 per Kg as import duty and goods tax of five percent.
Dentana said this policy is part of the opening fiscal measures to help target better health outcomes in the country, particularly aimed at reducing prevalence of non-communicable diseases which are evidently increasing as shown by our national health records.
Further to that, former Minister of Finance and now Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare told media last year that the longer term strategy is to shift the country’s population to the alternatives and chose brown rice instead of white rice.
Sogavare said a bag of brown rice costs about $600 compared to a bag of 30kg white rice which costs only $200.
However he said the easiest option is for the people to shift to local dietaries so that they need not to buy rice.
Island Sun contacted Solraise Ltd to get their bosses to comment on the new import tax but they left the office to attend another engagement.
Solomon Islands has become one of the highest rice consuming country in the region.
Statistics in 2014 shows that one person consumed 100 kg of rice.
The country rice imports stood at approximately 51,888 tonnes at the end of 2013, 31 percent higher than 2012 imported volumes of 39,467 tonnes.
In terms of value, rice import value amounted to around SBD$270 million at the end of 2013 compared to SBD $222 million in 2012.