Coalition to FG:  Include public health in fiscal policy reform process

The National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR) has called on the Federal Government (FG) to prioritize the inclusion of public health organizations in the fiscal policy reform process.

They argued that public health should be at the forefront of government planning and resource allocation.

The coalition also called for an increase in the SSB tax rate to a level that discourages consumption while generating government revenue, adding that it should be no less than a rate that increases retail prices by 20 percent.

They also advocated for the Federal Government to Introduce a draft SSB tax bill that includes provisions for earmarking tax revenue for healthcare

The coalition in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday, also called for greater multi-sectoral collaboration in enacting the government’s proposed tax reforms. 

They include the Diabetes Association of Nigeria; Nigeria Health Watch; TalkHealth9ja; Nigeria Health Watch; Project PINK BLUE; Nutrition Society of Nigeria; Nigeria Cancer Society and ONE Campaign.

The Coalition’s request came in response to a recent statement by the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms, Taiwo Oyedele, that the government has no plans to introduce new taxes or impose higher tax rates.

They also asserted that there should be greater public health representation in the institution of tax reforms, especially sin taxes, which are imposed on commodities that affect health.

They stressed that pro-health tax policies have an important bearing on health outcomes, and the Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee should work in collaboration with public health organizations in formulating tax policies.

Speaking, the President of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Dr. Mohammed Alkali, commended the government’s objective to enhance revenue collection and promote the efficient use of tax revenue.

“The SSB tax, which has been introduced in many countries globally, has proven to have both health and economic benefits. The increased cost of the commodities is expected to discourage consumption, hence reducing the risk of NCDs and reducing complications.

“Nigeria’s 10 naira per liter SSB tax will make a deeper health impact if the rate is sufficiently increased to a level that will discourage purchase while generating significant revenue”, he added.

In further reaction to this a representative from Project PinkBlue, Gloria Okwu, said: “It is important for public health voices to have a seat at the table when tax policy reforms are being considered.”

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