sugary beverage tax

Coalition kicks against lower sugary beverage tax

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sugary beverage tax

The National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) Coalition has opposed a proposal by Taiwo Oyedele, the Chairman of the Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee, suggesting that reducing the tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) would be more beneficial to the Nigerian economy.

The coalition has been pushing for an increase in the SSB tax to 20 percent per liter of sugary beverages, up from the current 10 percent to discourage the consumption of these products due to their harmful health hazards.

However, in a statement by Alhassan Adamu Umar, the Co-chair of NASR Coalition on Wednesday, the proposal to reduce the SSB tax by the Chairman of the Tax Reform Committee is economically counterproductive and poses an escalating health risk for the people.

The statement reads in part: “The Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee
convened a stakeholder engagement meeting with trade associations, civil society, non-governmental and religious organizations to discuss pathways for tax reforms that will boost economic growth in Nigeria.

“The committee’s chairman, Taiwo Oyedele, said in his statement during yesterday’s meeting that the Committee aims to decrease the tax burden on Nigerians by primarily taxing the wealthiest 1% of the population, rather than enacting any new taxes.

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“According to him, this is more effective and will ultimately result in more revenue.

“The chairman stated that nations that have enacted similar tax policies have seen higher rates of economic expansion and revenue.

“However, he restated the committee’s commitment to identifying locally developed solutions that are appropriate for the job at hand.

“The committee’s chairman further stated that the fiscal policy and tax reforms committee is dedicated to enhancing confidence in government and transparency with the Nigerian people.

“Mr. Oyedele also stated that taxes on sugary beverages could further burden the poor”.

According to Umar in the press statement, responding to Oyedele’s comments, a member of the NASR coalition, Runcie Chidebe, highlighted that, in contrast, taxes on sugary drinks are crucial to easing the burden on the less privileged.

Chidebe, executive director of Project PinkBlue, was quoted as saying, “The SSB tax is not a tax on the poor, it is a tax on products that are harmful to health, and thus a pro-health fiscal policy.

“It directly protects the poor by deterring their consumption of sugary drinks and reducing their risk of serious diseases.

“I am concerned that while we should not tax the poor, we must take tax policy steps to protect the vulnerable.

“Many of the poor have lower socioeconomic status and they are more prone to consume sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods that place them at a higher risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases”.

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The NASR coalition contends that not implementing the SSB tax is counterproductive to public and preventive health practices, especially since there is evidence that implementing SSB taxes results in a healthier population.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently issued a report recommending higher sugary drink taxes towards creating healthier food environments and preventing non-communicable diseases and deaths.

The coalition advises that sugary drink tax revenue be targeted for health coverage, which will support the country’s goals of achieving Universal Health Coverage.

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