….insist FG increase SSB tax of N10/litre to safeguard lives of Nigerians
By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA – A coalition of Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, led by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, yesterday, debunked media reports that President Bola Tinubu has suspended tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, SSB.
This was stated by the Executive Director, CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, during a media conference held in Abuja.
Oluwafemi said the introduction of tax on SSB remains the way out to safeguard the health of consumers of ‘soft drinks’ in Nigeria following the crippling effects the drinks have on the health of Nigerians, especially the poor who do not have the means to treat themselves when they go down with diabetes, kidney failure, obesity, heart diseases, cancer, and order health challenges.
He explained that the essence of the tax on SSB in June 2021by the Federal Government imposing a N10/Litre Excise Duty was basically to help reduce the overconsumption of SBBs,
which have links to over 15 types of cancer, and that The World Health Organisation, WHO, and other international health bodies have confirmed these types of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases to have a hard-hitting impact on the health, social, economic, and environmental well-being of consumers and communities.
He said: “It will interest you to know that the taxes President Bola Tinubu suspended were new taxes introduced by the Buhari Government under the 2023 Financial Act, not all the existing taxes before. Tinubu only complied with the existing law of the country. The tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages was not suspended.
“The tax covers different categories of sugar-sweetened non-alcoholic beverages and implementation began in June 2022.
“Tax is effective in reducing consumption of SSBs in all the countries of the World where they
have been effectively introduced and managed.
“It has also helped to improve public health indices while also reducing some of the environmental problems caused by the indiscriminate disposal of SSB product packages.
“While we say that the aim is to reduce overconsumption, we must reiterate that these beverages are non-nutritive and have no use in the body.
“Hence, can be totally avoided for the good of everyone.”
Meanwhile, he (Oluwafemi) alleged that, “Interestingly, manufacturers of these unhealthy products through various front and ally groups including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, 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.
“They have also constantly attacked civil society groups working to sure that Nigeria institutes effective food policies that will reduce diet-related diseases in the country.
“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 the 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’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, and Government must in good faith begin to account for the taxes collected and a breakdown of how it has been expended.”