CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Legalise proposed N20 beverages tax, coalition urges FG

Sugar Sweetened Beverages Coalition has urged the Federal Government to legalise the proposed N20 per litre tax on carbonated drinks and related products as well as reflect same in the 2023 Finance Act, in deference to World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation.[spacer height=”25px”]

Delivering an address on behalf of the 30-member coalition at the ‘Press Briefing to Expose False Industry Narratives on SSB Tax’, yesterday, in Lagos, Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, recalled that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration introduced the N10/litre Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) tax through the Finance Act 2011 on carbonated drinks and sugar-sweetened non-alcoholic beverages produced, imported, distributed and sold in Nigeria.[spacer height=”25px”]

He noted that the tax being collected by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on behalf of government did not come into effect until June 2022.[spacer height=”25px”]

Oluwafemi pleaded with government to be firm in defending the health of the country by enacting the proposed N20/litre into law with immediate application from January 1, 2023, as well as instituting a sustainable legal framework for SSB tax with clear timelines for attaining the WHO recommended 20 per cent of retail price.[spacer height=”25px”]

Besides, the coalition wants government to begin necessary engagements towards enacting a policy to ensure that the SSB tax is dedicated to public health coupled with massive education on dangers of over-consumption of sweetened beverages.[spacer height=”25px”]

The ED observed: “SSBs include non-alcoholic beverages we popularly refer to as soft drinks (i.e., cola and sodas), juices (even 100 per cent juices), nectars, sweetened coffee, sugarcane juice, malt drinks, sweetened tea, energy drinks, sport drinks and flavoured dairy drinks. They are always loaded with high calories and add no nutritional value.[spacer height=”25px”]

“The high calories consumed in SSBs lead to excessive weight gain. SSBs’ liquid sugar is easily absorbed into the body. Those sugars alter the body’s metabolism, affecting insulin, cholesterol and metabolites that cause high blood pressure and inflammation.[spacer height=”25px”]

“The Federal Government has consistently maintained that SSB tax is pro-health and aimed at reducing over-consumption of sugary drinks to lower the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).[spacer height=”25px”]

“In 2021, the International Diabetic Federation (IDF) said the diabetes-related health expenditure in Nigeria grossed N745 billion. This is a staggering cost for a nation where many live below the poverty line. The cost of managing complications of diabetes is not unconnected to the fact that Nigeria now ranks fourth on the global list of countries consuming sugary drinks.”[spacer height=”25px”]

The CAPPA boss stated that a 2020 World Bank report placed obesity-related diseases among top three killers in the world, adding: “ The unchecked consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is a risk factor for obesity and overweight that lead to other health complications, which include but not limited to Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, 13 of the 15 major types of cancer and stroke.”[spacer height=”25px”]

Stating that with more than 12 million people recorded to be obese in Nigeria and current number of those aware of their diabetic status put at 11 million Nigerians, the SSB tax remains a commendable approach and effective tool of government to tackle the impending pandemic.[spacer height=”25px”]

“The SSB tax will not only come with heath benefits but a double win for government as it will lead to increased revenue. The increased government revenue can be used to find health-related initiatives or other expenditures,” he added.[spacer height=”25px”]

Also speaking, a public health professional with the University of Ibadan, Dr. Francis Fagbile, cautioned against pumping more refined sugar into the body, noting that the food we consume already have the sugar needed by the human system.[spacer height=”25px”]

He harped on healthy lifestyles to check the increasing NCDs, urging government to be more decisive with the SSB tax by way of raising it up and implementation to discourage wanton consumption of sugary products.[spacer height=”25px”]

Also, Barnabas Yahaya of Tobacco Control Alliance urged lifestyle moderation to contain NCDs and other health crisis linked to intake of sugary drinks and related products.[spacer height=”25px”]

Others that attended the physical and virtual event included the SSB Project Manager, Opeyemi Ibitoye, Paul Ashibel of Tobacco Control Alliance and CAPPA Director of Programmes, Philip Jakpor.[spacer height=”25px”]

Source: The Guardian

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