The House of Representatives has considered a motion to formulate a tax policy on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in Nigeria.
The motion, which was presented by the House Committee Chairman on Pilgrims Affairs, Hon. Abubakar Naralaba, at the House’s plenary on Tuesday, argued that SSBs posed harm to the health of Nigerians, and that citizens have a right to be protected from these harms.
While noting that Nigeria is the fourth-highest SSBs consuming country in the world, the motion proposed a 5 to 10 percent excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The 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, a member representing Ukwa East/Ukwa West federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, requested that the excise duty portion be amended, saying that the cost will fall back on the consumers.
Speaking with journalists after the session, the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR’s) representative, Omei Bongos, commended the House for the step, and called for an awareness to highlight the poor effects of drinking SSBs on health.
Bongos said: “This is a good step forward for healthy food policy in Nigeria, but there remains much more to be done, there is the need to do 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.
Also, the Secretary General of Diabetes Association of Nigeria, who is also the co-chair of the NASR Coalition), Comrade Bernard Enyia, 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.”