CSO advocates hike of SSB tax from N10 to N130/litre

A CIVIL society organisation, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), has urged the Federal Government to fully implement and increase taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to a minimum of N130/litre.

The organisation made the appeal at the public presentation of the simulation study of the “Potiential Fiscal and Public Health Effects of SSB tax in Nigeria,” on Monday, February 26, in Abuja.

SSB contains various forms of sugars, such as brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, and honey and includes carbonated drinks, energy drinks, milk-based drinks, pre-sweetened teas, coffees and juice drinks. 

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, emphasised the need for a multisectoral, interdisciplinary, multiprong approach that combines policy engagement with public awareness, community mobilisation, and stakeholder consultation and engagement. 

While acknowledging the recent economic downturn in the country, the CAPPA boss noted that economists recommended that nations raise taxes on certain products that are considered not too critical during an economic crisis. 


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Oluwafemi also explained that the increase in communicable disease cases in Nigeria correlated with the rise in consumption of SSBs, alcohol, tobacco, trans-fat, unhealthy levels of salt, and other non-nutritive diets that are injurious to the human body.

According to him, the burden of diseases in Nigeria has continued to impoverish Nigerians, noting that many spend the majority of their earnings on unhealthy diets.

He further stated that consuming unhealthy diets could lead to increased health costs.

“In a country with more than 80 per cent 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 CDs (communicable diseases).

“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 around the government in doing what is right for the general public,” he added.

Meanwhile, joined with other health stakeholders, CAPPA launched its extensive report on potential fiscal and public health on sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Nigeria.

The report was aimed at providing a comprehensive overview of SSB consumption patterns, their profound health implications, fiscal considerations, and policy recommendations to address the growing health and economic challenges stemming from SSB consumption in Nigeria.






     

     

    Using a specialised survey administered by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) in 2023 regarding the consumption of SSBs in Nigeria, the report commenced by analysing the trends in SSB consumption and uncovered significant disparities in gender and age.

    Speaking on the report, Oluwafemi said the report was part of the organisation’s contributions in assisting the government to determine the most effective SSB tax rate in the country.

    “Going by the current inflation rate, the N10 per litre imposed on SSBs in 2021 is today possibly worth less than four kobo because it was a fixed tax, not adjustable to inflation. In 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.

    “While I will not preempt the discussion of the research team, the findings of this study have shown that at a minimum of N130/lite, we will see a significant drop in consumption and a decrease in Nigeria’s consumption-fueled diseases. I am further convinced that this 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,” he noted.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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