By Somtochukwu Okonkwo
The National Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Coalition has urged the federal government to discountenance a campaign of misinformation by producers of soft drinks for it to back down on the implementation of the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB)Tax.
The coalition said the government must also increase the tax to a minimum of 20 percent of the final retail price as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the objectives of securing the wellness of Nigerians to be achieved.
Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, explained that the federal government must also commence a legislative process for the sustainability of the tax, and make it adjustable for inflation with provisions on earmarking.
At a press briefing in Abuja, Oluwafemi pointed out that the coalition was intent on also alerting the media to deliberate misinformation coming from soft drinks industry and their allies working tirelessly to undermine the collective well-being of Nigerians through their daily attack on government pro-health initiatives.
Oluwafemi noted that in 2021, the federal government imposed a N10 per litre Excise Duty on SSBs but argued that while it was a good start, the sum remains insignificant in meeting the challenge of addressing the over-consumption of SSBs and resultant fallouts including cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Other speakers who also emphasized the need for the government to increase the tax to meet the global standard are Joy Amafah of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Dr Francis Fagbule of the University College of Health Ibadan, and Austin Iroaya, an economist.