How tax increase on sugar sweetened beverages will reduce consumption, others – Official

Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, has explained how the increase of N130/ litre on Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSB) tax will make a significant drop in consumption and a decrease in Nigeria’s sugar-related diseases.

Speaking at the just concluded public presentation of the simulation study of the “Potential Fiscal and Public Health Effects of SSB tax in Nigeria” in Abuja recently, Akinbode said going by the current inflation rate, the N10 per litre imposed on SSB in 2021 is today possibly worth less than 4kobo because it was a fixed tax, not adjustable to inflation.

He said, “In the 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 sizeable portion of it for public health.”

According to him, “When Nigeria introduced the N10/litre Excise Duty on SSBs in 2021 through the Finance Act, it was celebrated as a win for public health but as concerned advocates with history in the long battle against the menace of tobacco and the tobacco industry, it was important for us to take a critical look at the tax and its structure.

“Since we began this campaign, we have emphasised the need for a multisectoral, interdisciplinary, multisectoral approach that combines policy engagement with public awareness, community mobilisation, and stakeholder consultation and engagement.

“We also prioritise intergenerational engagement to build consensus for an effective tax structure that will help us in the fight against the scourge of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria.

“This campaign ideology is based on the need for evidence based campaigning towards evidence propelled decision by policymakers.

“It is no longer news 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.

“We also 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% of her 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.”

On the launch of the simulation study of the “Potential Fiscal and Public Health Effects of SSB tax in Nigeria” which was conducted by Centre for the Study of Economics of Africa (CSEA), Akinbode said it was part of their contributions towards assisting government in determining the most effective SSB tax rate in Nigeria.

He said an effective SSB tax regime will not only reduce consumption but also raise revenue accruable to the government.

He further said, “the 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.”