NASR insist on implementation of SSB tax
Health advocates under the aegis of National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR), on Wednesday, insist on the implementation of the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) tax.
It also condemned attempts by beverage companies to halt the 10 naira per litre sweetened beverage tax from the Finance Act, saying sugar-sweetened beverages are harmful to health and consumption must be discouraged.
A statement by the Coalition Spokesperson, NASR, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, while reacting to the Federal Government on passing the tax, maintained that a higher tax rate is needed to make a real health impact.
According to her: “The consumption of sugary drinks is known to be a risk factor for diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancers. As one approach to relieve the burden on Nigeria’s over-stretched health systems, the taxes can lead people to buy and consume fewer soft drinks.
“This would result in reduced diabetes incidence, increased economic productivity, and lower healthcare costs.”
The group had earlier raised billboards to drive public awareness about the importance of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax and the harms of consumption to health.
She further explained that the taxes would be especially beneficial to the poor, who suffer the most from the high financial cost of non-communicable diseases.
She said: “The poor are most responsive to price changes, and taxes will encourage them to buy less and prevent the future onset of costly, life-threatening chronic illness.
“The billboard displays also called out the beverage manufacturing industry for putting financial gain over health. The industry has consistently generated profits, yet makes claims that the current 10 naira per litre tax will “collapse” their industry. Soft drink sales in Nigeria are the 4th highest in the world, with nearly 40 million litres sold each year.
“This amounts to billions in profit each year at the expense of public health. The coalition further argued that the industry pays a 50% tax in Qatar, yet this high rate has not led to an industry collapse. Increasing taxes will benefit the nation’s health without causing economic losses to the industry.
“Soft drinks are cheap; diabetes is not,” read one of the billboard displays. Taxing soft drinks and other sweetened beverages is a way to prevent avoidable deaths and raise sorely needed revenue to invest in healthcare.”