Overlook opposition to tax on sugary drinks, CAPPA advises FG
Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has advised the Federal Government to overlook the aversion of producers of carbonated drinks to the N10/litre on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) Tax, which came into effect on June 1, 2022.
Reports had indicated that some firms, operating under the aegis of the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), had alerted that the new tax, which is embedded in the Finance Act of 2021, would lead to job losses and shutdowns in their lines of operations.
Under the new policy, which was introduced in December 2021, an N10 tax on each litre is imposed on all non-alcoholic and sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks produced and sold in the country.
Reacting to the alarm raised by the firms, in a statement, CAPPA said their line of argument has always been the same whenever there is legislation that prioritises the health and wellness of Nigerians ahead of profits.
Its Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi noted: “While the shutdowns and job losses threat does not come as a shock to the average Nigerian, we are taken aback by the industry deliberately avoiding the statistics of Nigerians suffering from diabetes, obesity and other illnesses associated with the products they produce.”
He said producers of carbonated drinks are simply out to make money and mislead the public by lumping issues related to the pro-people sugar-sweetened beverages tax with other issues that are not in the same category.
According to him, the industry is ultimately out to scuttle the implementation of the new tax regime.
Oluwafemi recalled: “In 2021, Nigeria ranked fourth in sugar-sweetened beverages consumption globally. The impact of this data on the social and economic spectrum for Nigeria is enormous and a pointer to a dangerous future. One would wonder if the members of these associations and their agents care about the wellbeing of their consumers, who are predisposed to diabetes and obesity from the daily consumption of their products, which have no nutritional value for their body system.”
He reiterated that unchecked consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with many risk factors of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), adding that there has been increasing in the number of young people coming down with heart-related diseases, obesity, diabetes and other preventable ailments associated with what they eat.
The CAPPA boss explained that the public health community decried the attempt to ridicule the efforts of civil society, government regulatory agencies and health institutions at curbing the financial and social cost of NCDs in a country, where more than 73 per cent of the entire population pay out-of-pocket for health expenses.
Lauding the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) for its responsiveness in relation to implementing the policy, Oluwafemi urged the government to further increase the taxes by at least 15 per cent in alignment with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations for sugar-sweetened beverages.
WHO and other global experts recommend that sugary drink taxes should raise the final retail prices of SSB by 20 per cent or greater to have a meaningful impact on the reduction of their consumption.
CAPPA also encouraged makers of carbonated drinks p to adhere to global standards, which Nigeria is still a far cry from going by the negligible but commendable tax policy.
“We strongly support the current tax regime, which is the first step to help Nigerians change their consumption patterns. Our expectation is that the government should ensure its strict enforcement and make sure the carbonated drinks producers comply with the policy,” he stated.