Stakeholders in tax, advocacy and health sectors have urged the federal government to expedite actions on the tax rise payable on Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) to boost national revenue and reduce medical expenses on Nigerians.
They made the call on Monday in Abuja at an Inter-agency capacity building meeting for Ministries,Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the implementation of Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSB) Tax, organised by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Public Health Non-Communicable Diseases Division of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and other partners.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, said SSBs have become an increasingly prevalent part of citizen’s daily lives, contributing to a range of health problems like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, leading to avoidable medical expenses that also harm the nation’s economy.
“The federal government through the Finance Act 2021 began implementation of a N10 per litre tax on non-alcoholic and sugar-sweetened beverages in June 2022, in a bit to reduce the prevalence of NCD associated with sugary drinks, which various research shows contributes to about 39% of the total deaths, annually.
“An attempt was made to increase it to N20 per litre and there was a lot of outcries because many people don’t understand that this is a tax to save the lives of the Nigerians and that they on their own is to reduce consumption of this product,” Oluwafemi said.
Also, Director/Head Public Health Department, FMOH, Dr. M.O Alex-Okoh, said, “An estimated 38.6m litres of soft drinks are sold daily in Nigeria making us the fourth highest soft drink consuming countries in the world.
“The drinks are marketed In a such a way that customers believe that they get better value when they buy the bigger bottles of soft drinks, leading to overconsumption, especially among Nigerian adolescents, which can lead to childhood obesity and negative health consequences in adulthood.”
She urged the government to increase the tax to N20 per litre to meet the global best practice of excise tax of at least 20% of the final retail price on all SSBS products.