By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The House of Assembly, during its plenary on Tuesday 8 June, considered a motion to formulate a tax policy on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in Nigeria.
A statement issued yesterday by Dr. Laz Ude Eze, Technical Advisor, NASR
said the motion, presented by Hon Abubakar Naralaba, Chair House Committee on Pilgrims Affairs, indicated that SSBs pose harm to the health of Nigerians, and that citizens have a right to be protected from these harms.
He noted that Nigeria is the fourth-highest SSB consuming country in the world.
The motion also proposed a 5 to 10 percent excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
“This tax, as stated in the motion, would be aimed at discouraging SSB consumption and preventing its damaging health effects such as type 2 diabetes. The motion also included a proposal to mandate the labeling of beverage packaging to make clear the health risks linked to the consumption of SSBs.
“After the reading of the motion, an amendment was requested by Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta. It was requested that the excise duty portion be amended, as the cost will fall back on the consumers. The House of Representatives votes and proceedings document was released on Wednesday 9th of June, revealing the decision of the House to amend the SSB Tax motion.”
Speaking after the session, National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) representative, Omei Bongos, said, “This is a good step forward for healthy food policy in Nigeria, but there remains much more to be done, there needs to be more awareness to highlight the poor effects of drinking SSBs on health. A tax will be part of a comprehensive package of interventions to tackle non-communicable diseases, NCDs, like hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.” NASR is a coalition of non-governmental organizations advocating for policy measures to tackle the health risks of consuming SSBs.
Comrade Bernard Enyia, the Secretary General of Diabetes Association of Nigeria (Co-Chair of the NASR Coalition), and a Nigerian living with type 2 diabetes said, “As a victim of diabetes I have come to realize that SSBs cause irreversible damage to people who drink them. This damage includes complications and premature death, and as such all producers and marketers of these products are culpable. The “5 to 10%” excise duty tax will compel the producers of these beverages to respond quickly and also encourage citizens to make healthier choices. The proceeds of the tax can be used to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases as a national response to their prevention and control.”