Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has advised the Federal Government to ignore soft drink producers’ aversion to the N10/litre tax on sugary drinks (SSB), which has come into force June 1, 2022.
Reports had said that some businesses, operating under the umbrella of the Association of Nigerian Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), had warned that the new tax, which is embedded in the Finance Act 2021, would lead to loss of business. jobs and closures in their lines of operations.
Under the new policy, which was introduced in December 2021, an N10 tax on every liter is imposed on all soft and sugary soft drinks produced and sold in the country.
Responding to the alarm raised by the companies, in a statement, CAPPA said their line of argument has always been the same whenever there is legislation that puts the health and well-being of people first. Nigerians before profits.
Its chief executive, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “While the threat of closures and job losses is no shock to the average Nigerian, we are surprised that the industry deliberately avoids statistics of Nigerians suffering. diabetes, obesity and other diseases associated with the products they manufacture.
He said soft drink producers are simply trying to make money and mislead the public by bundling pro-popular sugary drink tax issues with other issues that are not in the picture. same category.
According to him, the industry is finally ready to scuttle the implementation of the new tax regime.
Oluwafemi recalled, “In 2021, Nigeria ranked fourth in the world for consumption of sugary drinks. The impact of this data on Nigeria’s social and economic spectrum is enormous and portends a dangerous future. One might wonder whether the members of these associations and their agents care about the well-being of their consumers, who are predisposed to diabetes and obesity through the daily consumption of their products, which have no nutritional value for their organization.
He reiterated that uncontrolled consumption of sugary drinks is associated with many risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), adding that there has been an increase in the number of young people suffering from heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other preventable diseases associated with what they eat.
The CAPPA boss explained that the public health community has denounced the attempt to ridicule the efforts of civil society, government regulators and health institutions to reduce the financial and social cost of NCDs in a country. where more than 73% of the entire population pays out-of-pocket costs for health care.
Commending the Nigeria Custom Service (NCS) for its responsiveness in implementing the policy, Oluwafemi urged the government to further raise taxes by at least 15%, in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). ) for sugary drinks.
The WHO and other global experts recommend that taxes on sugary drinks increase the final retail prices of sugary drinks by 20% or more to have a significant impact on reducing their consumption.
ACPAP has also encouraged p soft drink manufacturers to adhere to global standards, which Nigeria is still far from having by the negligible but commendable fiscal policy.
“We strongly support the current tax regime, which is the first step in helping Nigerians change their consumption habits. We expect the government to strictly enforce it and make sure soft drink producers adhere to the policy,” he said.