A coalition of public health organizations under the aegis, the National Action on Sugar Reduction, has applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for the proposed “pro-health” tax increase on soft drinks in the 2022 budget.
In a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, jointly signed by Bernard Enyia, the Coalition Co-chair and Secretary-General of the Diabetes Association, and Vivianne Ihekweazu, Co-Chair and Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, the group stated that this was commendable.
According to the group, the proposed tax policy as announced by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Hadiza Ahmed, in her budget breakdown, would boost non-communicable diseases prevention in Nigeria.
The group explained that the possible increase in soft drink taxes aligns with the recently updated National NCDs Policy and Multisectoral Action Plan for the Control and Prevention of NCDs in Nigeria adding that the revised National NCDs Policy includes recommendations to enact new laws to increase taxes and excise duties on carbonated beverages.
“During the Public Presentation and Breakdown of the Highlights of the 2022 Appropriation Bill, the minister said the government would increase excise duties on carbonated drinks.
‘‘We are advocating for health and fiscal policy measures to combat the devastating impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the country.
“The proposed increase in the taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages by 2022 is a step in the right direction.
“This is because it will enable revenue to be generated for public health programs, especially those targeted at addressing the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases,” they said.
Also, the Coalition stated that leading research has called attention to the role that soft drinks play in raising the risk of diseases like obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, noting that evidence suggests that taxation is effective in reducing the consumption of soft drinks.
Furthermore, the coalition said to date several countries had successfully implemented sugary drink taxes, including a health promotion levy in South Africa.
They noted that such conditions could produce a two-pronged difficulty in that they often caused a lifetime of ill health and healthcare spending.
“In addition to the economic benefits of the tax, the coalition recognizes the positive effect this will have on the health of Nigerians.
‘‘NCDs account for the deaths of one in three Nigerians and present a significant cause of premature death.
“We however applaud the Federal Government for this significant step towards protecting the lives of Nigerians,” they said.
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