By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) , said for the desired impact reduction in consumption and decrease in Non-communicable diseases(NCDs) is key, government must immediately increase tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to a minimum of 20% to the final retail price of SSBs.
CAPPA made the called yesterday at the National Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Coalition’s Press Briefing , yesterday in Abuja, advocating that the 10% tax needed to be upwards from N10 to 20% percent has become very important.
The CAPPA boss recalled that federal government moved to reduce the overconsumption of SugarSweetened Beverages which have links to cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and imposed a N10/Litre Excise Duty on SSBs in 2021.
He however, noted that a N10/Litre Excise Duty on SSBs is insignificant and may never have the desired impact on consumption rate and by extension the nation’s healthcare sector, stressing that for any meaningful impact to be achieved, the tax must be immediately increased to a minimum of 20% of the final retail price of SSBs products.
According to him, government must n ot succumb to the blackmail of the producers of SSBs, instead, the they should begin a legislative process for the sustainability of the tax, that will be adjustable for inflation with provisions on earmarking, stressing that government’s role of protecting the populace remains sacrosanct and the current government must honor this social contract with the people.
Oluwafemi also urged government to ensure that other SSBs not captured in the current tax regime are all included, and in good faith begin to account for the taxes collected showing a breakdown of how it has been expended.
“As a coalition that has consulted across regions of the country, we state unequivocally that: The current #10/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 increase to a minimum of 20% 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’s role of protecting the populace remains sacrosanct and the current government must honor this social contract with the people; The government must ensure that other SSBs not captured in the current tax regime are all included; Government must in good faith begin to account for the taxes collected and a breakdown of how it has been expended” he said.
Also speaking, Public Consultant, University College Hospital, University of Ibadan, Dr Francis Fagbule,said excess sugar consumption, especially from SSBs had been consistently linked to the rising trend in noncommunicable diseases.
Fagbule said that these included heart disease, diabetes, and cancers which were key risk factors of morbidity and mortality.
Health consultant, who described taxation as a tool measure, said it would increase the price of SSBs and reduce demand for the products.
“Sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and soft drinks as well as energy drinks and sweetened water have no nutritional value.
“Effective SSB tax has the potential to promote a shift to consumption of safe drinking water among the people and incentivise non-price industry responses,” he said.
Fagbule said human body required the consumption between five and nine cubes of sugar, adding that 50CL of a soft drink contained 14 cubes which was unhealthy to the body.
Meanwhile, Nigeria Coordinator, Food and Nutrition Programs, Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Joy Amafah, said a lot of benefits could be derived from effective taxing of SSBs.
Amafah said this will drive behavioural changes, reduced the rate of which people come down with illnesses related to excess sugar consumption and by extension reduce the burden on the already overburdened healthcare system in the country.