Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The National Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) Tax Coalition has called on the federal government to commence a legislative process for the sustainability of the SSBs.
The coalition recalled that in 2021, the federal government imposed a N10 per litre Excise Duty on SSBs.
It explained that the tax was principally to help reduce the over-consumption of SSBs which have been linked to more than 15 types of cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Addressing a press conference on behalf of the coalition yesterday, in Abuja, the Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, urged the federal government not to succumb to the blackmail of the producers of soft drinks as it strives to reduce diet-related diseases in the country.
It said for the desired impact of the reduction in consumption of soft drinks, the tax must be immediately increased to a minimum of 20 per cent of the final retail price.
He insisted that the press briefing was beyond bringing attention to the important issue of SSBs tax, but to also urge media practitioners to be alert to alleged deliberate misinformation coming from certain sections and, “those working tirelessly to undermine the collective wellbeing of Nigerians through their daily attack on government pro-health initiatives aimed at promoting public health by
weaning Nigerians off unhealthy diets, and unhealthy lifestyles.”
Oluwafemi noted that SSBs, popularly called soft drinks, had been confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other national and international health bodies, to have a hard-hitting impact on health, social, economic, and environmental wellbeing of consumers and our communities.
He stressed that the tax covers different categories of sugar-sweetened non-alcoholic beverages and its implementation began in June 2022.
Oluwafemi, maintained that tax was effective in reducing consumption of SSBs in all countries of the world where they had been effectively introduced and managed.
He stated that manufacturers of these unhealthy products through various front and ally groups including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the organised private sector, and other nameless groups have continued to blackmail the government with their heavy media campaign of misinformation and threat to the federal government.
Oluwafemi added that they have also constantly attacked civil society groups working to ensure that Nigeria institutes effective food policies that would reduce diet-related diseases in the country.
He pointed out that while the aim was to reduce overconsumption, beverages are non-nutritive and have no use in the body.
The coalition stated: “The current N10/litre is insignificant, it has been absorbed by the industry.
“For the desired impact of reduction in consumption and decrease in NCDs, the tax must be immediately increased to a minimum of 20 per cent of the final retail price of SSBs.
“Government must not succumb to the blackmail of the producers of SSBs. Instead, the government should begin a legislative process for the sustainability of the tax, that will be adjustable for inflation with provisions on earmarking.
“Government must in good faith begin to account for the taxes collected and a breakdown of how it has been expended.”