2022 Appropriation Bill: Proposed tax policy on soft drinks to boost disease prevention ― CSOs

Following proposed plans by the Federal Government (FG) to increase its taxation on soft drink, a coalition of public health organisations under the aegis of the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR), has said the move would help curb the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had during her Public Presentation and Breakdown of the Highlights of the 2022 Appropriation Bill disclosed that the government would increase the taxation on carbonated drinks, resulting in a price increase.

She stated that this would be part of the additions in the 2021 Finance Act which will take effect from January 2022.

The Minister’s announcement came after the House of Representatives considered a motion to formulate a tax policy on sugar-sweetened beverages in Nigeria.

In a statement jointly signed by Vivianne Ihekweazu, Co-chair NASR; Managing Director, Nigeria Health Watch and Bernard Enyia Co-chair NASR & Secretary-General, Diabetes Association of Nigeria, the group commended the decision as this would enable revenue generation for health programmes

According to the NASR, the possible increase in soft drink taxes, which the Minister described as “work in progress”, aligns with the recently updated National NCDs Policy and Multisectoral Action Plan for the Control and Prevention of NCDs in Nigeria.

It said the revised National NCDs Policy includes recommendations to enact new laws to increase taxes and excise duties on carbonated beverages.

The group further stressed that researchers had called attention to the role that soft drinks play in raising the risk of diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“Recent evidence suggests that taxation is effective in reducing the consumption of soft drinks. To date, several countries have successfully implemented sugary drink taxes, including a health promotion levy in South Africa,” the statement read.

The statement also quoted Vivianne Ihekweazu, as stating that revenue generated, as a result, will be used especially for those targeted at addressing the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Her words: “The proposed increase in the taxation of sugar-sweetened beverages is a step in the right direction because it will enable revenue to be generated for public health programmes, especially those targeted at addressing the rising incidence of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”

Similarly, Enyia, the Coalition co-chair and Secretary-General of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, a type 2 diabetes patient, added that; “This will make funds available for the national response to non-communicable diseases. I believe that her promise will come to pass.”

The National Action on Sugar Reduction, a coalition of public health organisations has been an advocate for health and fiscal policy measures to combat the devastating impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria.

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