Coalition supports tax on sugar-sweetened beverages

The National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition has disagreed with the call in some areas to remove the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Coalition called on the President, Bola Tinubu, to increase the sugar-sweetened beverage tax.

It noted that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria had called for a reversal of the violation of the government’s three-year excise escalation roadmap on alcoholic beverages and tobacco by former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

However, in a statement on Monday by the Chairman of the coalition, Dr. Adamu Umar, noted the poor in the country would suffer if the sugar-sweetened beverage tax was removed or not increased.

The statement partly read, “The coalition has been advocating for pro-health policies, including the passage of Nigeria’s N10 per liter excise tax in the 2021 Finance Act. In Nigeria, NCDs such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure account for one in three deaths.

“We maintained that the tax, by deterring the purchase and consumption of harmful sugary beverages, will reap health benefits by preventing non-communicable diseases, especially among the urban poor who cannot afford the high cost of treatment.”

He said the reason for the tax was to conserve Nigerians’ health and well-being.

Umar said,  “The NASR coalition, however, disagrees with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria for demanding the removal of pro-health taxes, this shows that the association is putting profit over health.

“Less than a week after the inauguration of the president, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria addressed an open letter to the president urging

him to review all non ‘business-friendly’ fiscal policies, including the tax on alcoholic beverages, sugar-sweetened beverages, and tobacco.

“The reason for taxing these commodities is to preserve Nigerians’ health and well-being, as they contribute to the country’s rising non-communicable disease toll.”

He added that, “Removing sin taxes will shift an increasing budgetary burden on the underfunded health-care sector, rendering the tax reversal counterproductive.”