Increase tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, experts


The Federal Government of Nigeria should increase taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages to achieve the 20 per cent hike in the final retail price of targeted sugary drinks as recommended by the World Health Organisation, some stakeholders have advocated.

They said the government’s decision to impose a N10 per litre excise tax on SSBs was commendable, but it fell short of the minimum 20 per cent of the final retail price of affected products recommended by the WHO and global health experts.

Their demand was contained in a communique issued after a one-day Regional Stakeholders Forum on SSBs organised by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa and the National Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Coalition in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Thursday, with support from Global Health Advocacy Incubator.

The communique, ready by CAPPA’s Programme Director, Jakpor Philip, was signed by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, National SSB Tax Coalition, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Rainbow Watch and Development Centre, Oilwatch Nigeria, Community Development Advocacy Foundation, Green Earth for Great Minds Initiative, and Zibekien Owen Ogon Development Initiative.

Among the participants were the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ehwrudjakpo, representatives of the ministries of Health and Environment from Bayelsa, Edo, Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, health experts, civil society organisations and the media.

They stressed the need for adequate and sustained collaboration by the federal and state governments to deepen public awareness of the health risks associated with sugar-sweetened beverages consumption and the benefits of the SSBs tax policy.

The communique said, “Government should increase taxation on SSBs towards achieving a 20% increase in the final retail price of targeted sugary drinks as recommended by WHO.

“The explosion in consumption of SSBs in Nigeria is a public health concern that is connected to the rise in non-communicable diseases such as weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart and kidney diseases, and cancer, among others.

“The decision of the Nigerian government to impose a N10 per litre Excise Tax on SSBs is laudable but still falls short of at least 20% of the final retail price of SSB products as recommended by the WHO and global health experts.

“The aversion of consumers to the SSB Tax regime in Nigeria is largely due to misinformation and misrepresentation of SSB Taxes by the soft drinks and beverages industry. False marketing and advertising campaigns of the SSB industry reinforce this misinformation.”

They recommended that the “SSB tax should be on the agenda of the National Council on Health” and that “there is a need for national legislation that advocates for the imposition of a pro-health tax.”

They also urged the Federal Government and its regulatory authorities to design and enforce penalties for companies that defaulted on SSB tax obligations, stressing that the required labelling needed to help Nigerians make informed choices on what they consume was still largely missing.

The communique added,”Nigeria is ranked the fourth largest global consumer of SSBs portends dangerous consequences for public health.

“Increasing consumption of SSBs in Nigeria is primarily due to the availability and affordability of SSBs, lacking affordable healthy alternatives, cultural and social norms that encourage and reinforce the consumption of carbonated drinks.

“SSBs offer no nutritional value to consumers but rather constitute a huge public health and economic burden for the country. Government should ensure periodic review of the SSB tax which is indexed on inflation.

“Stakeholders should conduct further research and studies on the impact of SSBs consumption and taxation in Nigeria to inform evidence-based policymaking and intervention strategies.”

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