Government will soon start taxing companies that sell food supplements. According to the Heath Minister Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, all companies dealing in food supplements should register under the Private Sector federation (PSF) and be taxed like all businesses.
He said that the decision was taken early this week.
“We decided that their products will be called food supplements. Thus we will put different guidelines on how they will transact their businesses,” The Minister said Wednesday.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Commerce (Mincom), Health (Minisante), Finance (Minecofin), Agriculture (Minagri), Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS), and the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (RPSF).
Ntawukuriryayo said the products will be taxed because they are not drugs, adding that they will also be sold in publicly known places for easy supervision by the Health ministry.
“The public needs to know where they buy get them from, not in people’s houses and other undefined place,” he said.
He added that Minisante would closely monitor the products to check whether there were no side effects on their users though the overseer of the daily operations of such companies will be Minicom.
Ntawukuriryayo continued that such companies will be registered under the RPSF and avoid advertisements because that would be contrary to regulations governing firms dealing in food supplements.
The minister warned that companies who did not like the new guidelines will have to change their line of work.
“It is all about protecting people’s lives,” he said.
He explained that Minicom will soon issue copies of the minutes adopted in the meeting to all concerned agencies.
The move affects Forever Living Products (FLP), an international business organization dealing in food supplements and general medication, which despite a Government ban, continues to sell its products.
The firm dragged the Health ministry to court for suspending its operations, High Court President Johnston Busingye, ruled in favour of Minisante.
A mini survey conducted by The New Times around the City of Kigali recently showed that FLP offices and dealers were still selling the products and that clients were increasing in numbers by the day.
On July 20, 2007, the ministry suspended FLP’s activities due to lack of qualified staff in a profession the government said was sensitive to people’s health. Food supplement means a nutrient added to a foodstuff which would otherwise not contain that nutrient.
Supplements are taken in addition to the normal diet.
Many physicians today disagree with the premise that foodstuffs need supplementation, but accept that- for example- adding calcium may provide benefit, or that adding folic acid may correct a nutritional deficiency especially in pregnant women.
This nutritional supplementation using foods as medicine (nutraceuticals) has been effectively used in treating disorders affecting the immune system up to and including cancers.
The main groups of food supplements are vitamins and co-vitamins, essential minerals, essential fatty acids, essential amino acids, Glyco-nutrients and Phyto-nutrients.