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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Group urges govt to review sugar-sweetened beverages tax upward

The Corporate and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has called on the Federal Government to review the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) tax upward to reduce sugar consumption and noncommunicable diseases in the country.

Sugar-sweetened beverages
Sugar-sweetened beverages

Its Executive Director, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, gave the advice on Thursday, June 29, 2023, at a two-day Journalism Training on SSB Tax and Industry Monitoring in Abuja.

SSBs products are soda (not sugar-free), fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters, and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars.

Oluwafemi said that the Finance Act 2021 imposed a tax of N10 per litre on non-alcoholic and SSBs, adding that the rate was lower than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended benchmark of 20 per cent for effective outcomes.

“It is therefore needful that the fiscal policy rate in Nigeria should be reviewed upward by the government to achieve its intended public health outcome.

“Beyond the Finance Act, the legal feasibility of SSB tax in Nigeria should be strengthened and sustained through legislative pathways.

“Implementation of the tax policy could be more effective through tax education and community outreach activities.”

The CAPPA chief urged policymakers to partner with pro-health advocacy groups, education authorities and community leaders to educate distributors, retailers and consumers on the benefit of the tax.

According to him. this will also be helpful in defending the tax policy against SSBs industry tactics and interference.

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.

By Deji Abdulwahab

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