Fruits at Mahaneh Yehuda.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Finance Ministry insisted Monday that “there has been no decision” to levy
value-added tax on fresh fruit and vegetables, a move that has already been
proposed several times by the Treasury – when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
held his current office and also when he was finance minister.
Treasury was reacting to a report Sunday in Yediot Aharonot that it is preparing
to charge VAT on fresh produce, and also raise VAT from the current 16 percent
to 17% to help cover the growing budget deficit.
VAT on such food would
bring in hundreds of millions of shekels but would be very difficult to enforce
in outdoor markets.
The Finance Ministry, which commented to The
on Monday, did not say it was against putting VAT on fresh
produce – only that it has not yet done so. The Treasury has decided to raise
taxes on tobacco and alcohol, which is beneficial to health, but since fresh
vegetables and fruits are already quite expensive and proven to reduce chronic
diseases, VAT on them is considered anti-health.
Deputy Health Minister
Ya’acov Litzman told the Post that he “opposes the proposal to raise taxes from
fresh produce. It would weigh down on the public, so it must
He did not mention the health implications of such a
Litzman said he will make his position clear to the prime
minister – who also served as health minister – both in writing and orally
during the cabinet meeting and in other sessions that deal with the
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev health economist
Prof. Gabi Bin Nun, formerly a longtime Health Ministry deputy
director-general, said that putting VAT on fresh produce “would raise the price
and reduce consumption.”
“This position counters health policies around
the world that attempts to encourage proper nutrition and encourages people to
eat more fresh fruits and vegetables,” he added.
Such a diet
significantly reduces the prevalence of obesity, cancer and heart disease, and
according to Bin Nun: “The time has come that taxation be used not only to
increase state income but also as a means to promote healthful and proper
behavior.”Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.