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Fizzy drinks tax could be doubled

New levy on drinks with added sugar could be increased to fund a range of tax breaks for struggling farmers

A PROPOSED new tax on sugary drinks could bring in twice as much money as initially planned, to help support France's farming industry.

The levy on drinks with added sugar was announced in August as part of a wide range of measures aimed at tackling France's growing budget deficit.

President Sarkozy now wants the tax to double and for the extra cash to fund a series of social charges exonerations for struggling farmers who employ staff.

Initially forecast to raise €120m a year, the new tax could now bring in €240m a year if it is passed by parliament later this year.

It would add about two centimes to the cost of a 33cl can. Only drinks with added sugar are affected - products with sweeteners and drinks that are naturally sweet such as fruit juice will not be taxed.

The government hopes the extra funds will reduce the burden on farmers, especially fruit and veg producers who have been among the worst affected by the economic crisis in recent years

Food producers' union Ania said the government needed to make its mind up and put a stop to the uncertainty surrounding the tax. Coca-Cola Europe president Hubert Patricot said: "We remain strongly opposed to this tax, which unfairly targets people's spending power and which stigmatises an individual category of drinks."

The drink tax will be included in the government's 2012 budget, which will be debated in parliament this autumn.

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