Group advocates increase on sugar-sweetened beverage tax to reduce NCD

Group advocates increase on sugar-sweetened beverage tax to reduce NCD

  • Says tax increase to see significant drop in consumption

The Federal Government, FG has been tasked to increase sugar-sweetened beverage, SSB tax to a minimum of N130 per litre in order to reduce the increasing cases of non-communicable disease, NCD in Nigeria.

A human rights group, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, made the call yesterday, at the public presentation of the simulation study of the “Potential Fiscal and Public Health Effects of SSB tax in Nigeria” in Lagos.

CAPPA, which revealed that excise duty on SSBs in 2021 was N10/litre and was celebrated as a win for public health, pointed out that it was important to take a critical look at the tax and its structure. 

Executive Director of CAPPA, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, while delivering his speech said: “Going by the current inflation rate, the 10Naira per litre imposed on SSBs in 2021 is today possibly worth less than 4kobo because it was a fixed tax, not adjustable to inflation.  In essence, the SSB tax needs to be increased significantly in the 2024 Fiscal Act, with a framework that is adjustable to inflation as we also begin the conversation about earmarking the tax or a sizable portion of it for public health. 

“While I will not preempt the discussion of the research team, the findings of this study have shown that at a minimum of #130/litre, we will see a significant drop in consumption and a decrease in Nigeria’s consumption fueled diseases. I am further convinced that this document provides the government, including the executive and lawmakers, the much-needed data to pursue this policy pathway to a logical conclusion for the benefit of all. 

He noted that the increase in NCD cases in Nigeria is alongside the increase in consumption of SSBs, alcohol, tobacco, trans-fat, unhealthy consumption of salt and other diets that are non-nutritive and injurious to the body. 

“People might want to ask at this time. Yes, even economics teaches us that during an economic crisis, nations raise taxes on certain products that are considered not too critical. For SSBs, the issue here is public health and the real economic cost of overconsumption of SSBs. 

“We understand the current socio-economic struggles of the average Nigerian in an economy that is witnessing too many shocks at the same time. However, the burden of diseases in Nigeria also continues to impoverish the people as many spend majority of their earnings on unhealthy diet, which leads to increased health costs, which further impoverishes the people. It is a cycle that needs to break.

“In a country with more than 80 percent of its population paying for healthcare out-of-pocket, we must find a policy pathway that will effectively remove obstacles to good health and national productivity like modifiable risk factors of consumption related diseases and other NCDs.

“The argument of the people who care more about their profit over public health on consumption needs does not outweigh the many benefits inherent in this tax. The damages done to families and loved ones who cater for the sick are enough motivation to see the public rally round the government in doing what is right for the general public. “The cries and woes of the Armageddon by paid agents and allies of the SSB industry must not drown the voice of reason and the genuine concern for our welfare. 

“We commissioned this study we are presenting today as part of our contributions towards assisting the government in determining the most effective SSB tax rate in Nigeria. An effective SSB tax regime will not only reduce consumption but also raise revenue accruable to the government,” Oluwafemi stated.

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