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NGOs urge FG to increase sugar-sweetened beverages tax by 20%

by Business News Report

Some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have called on the Federal Government to increase. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) tax to 20 per cent of the final retail price to reduce sugar consumption and NonCommunicable Diseases (NCDs). The Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Coalition and Corporate and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) gave the advice on Wednesday at a news conference in Abuja. The Executive Director of CAPPA, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, recalled that in 2021, the Federal Government imposed a N10 per litre Excise Duty on SSBs, adding that the current N10/litre was insignificant and it needed to be reviewed upward.

Oluwafemi said that the tax must be immediately increase to a minimum of 20 per cent of the final retail price of SSBs to achieve the desired impact of reduction in consumption and decrease in NCDs. “SSBs, popularly called Soft Drinks, have been confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other national and international health bodies, to have hard-hitting impact on health, social, economic, and environmental wellbeing of consumers and our communities. 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,” group’s chief said.

According to him, 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. Interestingly, manufacturers of these unhealthy products through various front and ally 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 ensure that Nigeria institute effective food policies that will reduce diet-related diseases in the country,” he said.

Also speaking, Dr Francis Fagbule, Public Consultant, University College Hospital, University of Ibadan, said excess sugar consumption, especially from SSBs had been consistently linked to the rising trend in noncommunicable diseases. Fagbule added 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. (NAN)

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