The measure will last for a period of six months (April to October)
With food prices soaring, Prime minister António Costa has this afternoon announced the essential goods benefitting from ‘Zero VAT’.
The list of 44 food products followed recommendations by the General-Directorate of Health and includes “some of the most consumed products by families in Portugal”.
The measure, lasting for a period of six months (from April to October), will cost the government €640 million and includes a ‘financial support’ of €140 million for the agri-food production sector.
The essential goods are: bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, courgette, leeks, pumpkin, turnip greens, ‘Portuguese cabbage’, spinach, turnip, apples, bananas, oranges, pears, melon, red beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, peas, cow’s milk, yoghurts, cheese, pork, chicken, turkey, beef, codfish, sardines, hake, mackerel, canned tuna, seabream, horse mackerel, chicken eggs, olive oil, vegetable oil, butter.
This is another of the measures announced by the government to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
Essential goods should ensure healthy diet – Nutritionists
Before the PM’s announcement this afternoon, the head of the Portuguese Association of Nutritionists had defended that the basket of essential goods with a 0% VAT rate should be diversified and ensure a healthy diet, given the “needs of the entire population”.
“This basket, from our point of view, should be healthy, with products that respect our tradition and, if possible, national products,” said Alexandra Bento.
Speaking to Lusa news agency, Bento explained that this was exactly what the Portuguese nutritionists’ association had told the health ministry, regarding the basket of food products considered essential that will benefit from a 0% VAT rate.
In the opinion sent to the government, the association defended a diversified basket that respects the food wheel, ensuring that each of the seven groups is represented.
Asked if it would be important to include other foods, such as whole grain pasta and rice or low-fat dairy products, Alexandra Bento conceded that the ideal would be to cover all healthy foods, but it’s not possible.
“There had to be an intellectual, rigorous, technically acceptable and serious exercise. Anyone can see that they couldn’t include all of them, and if they can’t include all of them, they have to be those that meet the needs of the whole population, and not just specific groups,” she explained.
“It is a basket of healthy foods that meet the needs of the population in general.”
Alexandra Bento also stressed that the implementation of 0% VAT rate in a set of goods is “a collective effort” and an “exceptional measure”, so the commitment should go towards defining “the basic foods so that we can all have a healthy diet”.