By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
A coalition,National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR), and other Civil society organizations (CSOs), said they have adopted new campaign strategies to advocate towards making governments to enacted generated revenue from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) tax.
The diabetes association with other 11 CSOs in a statement jointly signed and issued by the Coalition Representative,Omei Bongos-Ikwue, said the decision was taken in meeting recently in Abuja.
“The meeting will also outlined other key elements for the next phase of the advocacy campaign”.
The statement said the
advocacy is for policy measures to tackle the health risks of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).
Peoples Daily recalled that the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, was introduced in the Finance Act and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on 31 December 2021, has been fully implemented.
“The Nigerian Customs Service started collection in July 2022.”
The coalition praised the government for taking proactive measures towards implementing the tax. Nigeria’s SSB tax is currently 10-naira per litre. According to Shirley Ewang, an advocacy specialist and coalition member, the next phase of the advocacy is to sustain the tax and increase it to a level that will produce a price change impactful enough to discourage excessive SSB consumption.
For this reason, the coalition is advocating for a 30-naira per litre tax. Ewang further explained, “The next [campaign] phase will include measures to ensure the earmarking of the funds as a health policy tool, more specifically, by ensuring that funds go towards curbing non-communicable diseases.”
Also, a public health physician and health policy Dr Laz Eze, who advocate fro TalkHealth9ja said “It is important to note that the increase in the tax is a win in itself because the idea behind the tax is to increase the price of the commodity, which will make consumers buy less and therefore reduce consumption.”
He, however, highlighted the importance of understanding that there is currently no law that mandates earmarking the funds as a health policy tool.
With concerns about tax revenue getting lost in government’s coffers, vice president of the Nigerian Cancer Society, Comrade Elijah drew the attention of members towards the importance of developing a strategy for ensuring transparency in implementing the tax. “There is a need to develop a mechanism to follow the money until there is legal backing for the earmarking of the fund as a health policy tool,” he said.
For the success of the next phase of the advocacy, Comrade Bernard of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria advised the coalition to take the advocacy to the opposition to ensure they properly understand the importance of the tax to Nigeria and Nigerians: “Winning them over will go a long way in ensuring the success of the new phase of the advocacy.”
The are Coalition Members,Diabetes Association of Nigeria
,Nutrition Society of Nigeria,Nigeria Cancer Society,Breast Without Spot,Lafiya Wealth Initiative,TalkHealth9ja and Nigeria Health Watch.
Others are Project PINK BLUE,Sustainable Development Initiative
,African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD)
,Bundies Care Initiative
and Nigerian Heart Foundation.