The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has tasked the Federal Government of Nigeria to stand firm in defending the health of Nigerians by enacting the proposed 20 Naira per litre tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages from January 1, 2023.
The Finance Act of 2021 mandates a 10 Naira per liter tax on SSB products, though it falls below the 20 percent SSB tax recommendation by the World Health Organization. Despite that the proposed 20 naira per litre tax on SSB products falls short of the WHO standard, industry actors are taking steps to counter the implementation of the policy.
To address this and the health complications that arise from the consumption of SSB, CAPPA, through the SSB Coalition, has demanded that the Nigerian Government implements the Finance Act.
While speaking during a media briefing in Lagos, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of CAPPA stressed that beyond the annual finance Act, the Federal Government needs to institute a sustainable legal framework that would enable Nigeria to meet up with the WHO recommendation of SSB tax up to 20% of the retail price.
Oluwafemi noted that the SSB tax is a pro-health tax that will help to reduce the overconsumption of sugary drinks in other to lower the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), adding that, such tax can be used to fund the health sector.
Oluwafemi said “Medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, and other complications associated with unchecked consumption of sugary drinks are in the category of the largest killer on a global scale. The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that more than 41 million people die from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) with 77% of that staggering death occurring in the Low-and-Medium Income Countries (LMIC) where Nigeria is also categorized. It further noted that an unhealthy diet increases the chances of dying from NCD.
“Considering the dangers this portends for the country, not only in terms of health but also in terms of financial implications and its effects on the quality of life of the citizens, the government of Nigeria must be commended for taking this bold but difficult step.
“However, for the government to achieve its mandate on reducing the cases of NCDs through the SSB tax, the minimum recommendation by the WHO is 20% tax on the final retail price of the SSB product. The current #10/litre imposed across all SSBs has been easily absorbed by the producers, a defeat of the initial policy purpose. Same with the proposed 20 Naira being proposed by the government. Even at 20 naira/ liter we are still behind the WHO recommendation.”
On his part, Dr Francis Fagbule, a public health professional at the Department of Periodontology and Community Dentistry, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, said the increase in NCDs has coincided with the increase in consumption of SSB diets and it is important that steps are taken to address these growing public health challenges.
Fagule emphasised that the most vital way of reducing the health challenges associated with SSB is through taxation, which must be up to 20 % benchmark issued by WHO.
“One of the ways to prevent or reduce the burden includes taxation of free sugars, especially those present in SSB products,” Fagbule added.
He mentioned that once the tax on SSB products increases, the retail price will definitely increase, and as such, there will be reduction in the consumption of SSB, ultimately reducing the health complications for Nigerians.