By Ebi Kesiena
The National Action on Sugar (NASR), a health coalition advocating for policy measures to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria, has applauded the Buhari administration for introducing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
Recall that the Honourable Minister of Finance Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed had on Wednesday announced a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
She stated this at the public presentation of the 2022 budget in Abuja. An excise tax of N10 per litre will now be imposed on non-alcoholic, carbonated and sweetened beverages.
The minister explained that the tax policy was instituted to raise revenue for critical expenditure, including health-related expenditure.
Also, late last year, the Coalition petitioned the finance minister in an open letter urging the government to proceed with a proposed carbonated drinks tax.
In a statement signed by Omei Bongos-Ikwue, Coalition Representative explained that the Coalition considers the tax a protective measure for Nigeria’s poorest, a population that stands to benefit the most from a reduced consumption of sugary beverages. Tax revenue can be used to curtail the rising burden of disease on the poor and on the nation’s healthcare system.
Also, reacting to the tax policy, Coalition member Dr Alhassan Umar, President of the Nigerian Cancer Society, said, “The timely passage of the Finance Act and the 2022 Appropriation Act by the National Assembly and the subsequent assent by the President, which gave legal backing to the new tax policy for non-alcoholic, carbonated and sweetened beverages is a welcome development to the National Action on Sugar Reduction. As advocates we will continue to advocate for proper utilization of the funds towards key preventive measures for non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancers and others.” he said.
Non-communicable diseases account for one in three deaths in Nigeria, presenting a significant cause of premature death and loss of economic productivity.
The Coalition therefore applauds the Federal Government for this significant step towards protecting the lives of Nigerians and safeguarding the country’s economy.