The National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR) has called on the National Assembly to fast track the passage of the bill on tax on carbonated drinks.
The call was made in a statement signed by Mr Omei Bongos-Ikwe, NASR Coalition Representative and issued to newsmen on Friday in Abuja.
It stated that the call was made during a virtual stakeholder meeting conveyed NASR on Wednesday, Dec. 1, which had the attendance of a member of the House of Representatives, Abubakar Nalaraba.
According to the statement, Nalaraba pledges the support of the National Assembly on the carbonated drink tax which is being advocated for by the coalition.
It said that earlier this year, Nalaraba had sponsored a motion that was presented before the National Assembly calling for a tax on carbonated drinks and a ban on misleading packaging claims.
Nalaraba reaffirmed his support for the proposed carbonated drinks tax bill, while the coalition urged him not to renege in his promise.
“Parliament is ready to support and work very closely with the coalition to ensure the tax is not removed from the Finance Bill.”
Mr Olumide Okunola, a World Bank Senior Specialist asserted that a 20 per cent excise tax at least on all sugar-sweetened beverages will lead to a reduction in its consumption.
He further emphasised that tax revenue should be remitted to the health sector to support health services delivery.
“The correlation between the intake of carbonated drinks and type 2 diabetes, stroke and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has long been established.
“In Nigeria, NCDs beset people of all social classes. However, the poor are most unable to afford the high costs of treatment.
“Decreasing the consumption of carbonated drinks will prevent the harmful effects of these
drinks,” Okunola said in the statement.
The statement noted that NASR coalition and its partners, comprising 16 health groups, had previously written to the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, urging her to propose a carbonated drinks tax.
NASR in the statement also praised the minister for her announcement recently about the “pro-health” tax.
It provided evidence from several geographies, including South Africa, where similar taxes have worked to reduce the consumption
of carbonated drinks and other sugary beverages.
The coalition in the statement also cited key outcomes from South Africa’s carbonated drinks tax, known as the “health promotion levy”, which raises prices of beverages by taxing them according to the amount of sugar the drink contains.
“Evidence shows that such an excise tax is well-suited to address the harmful effects of sugary beverages and produce much-needed revenue.
“One year after implementing its health-promotion levy, South Africa recorded a decrease in sugary beverage intake. Among high consumers, consumption decreased by up to seven times a week.
“Notably, with a tax equivalent to 15 U.S. cents per gramme of sugar, South Africa’s sugary beverage tax generated USD140 million in the first year,” it said.
The coalition, however, made a case for a similar tax in Nigeria, adding that, nearly 80 per cent of Nigerians pay out of pocket for healthcare.
The coalition said that a high tax on Nigerians who patronise these beverages would be a protective measure, adding that drink manufacturing companies pay nothing for the harm their products cause.
It added that these beverages target low socioeconomic groups by offering higher drink volumes at lower prices, to the detriment of health.