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House of Reps propose tax on sugar-sweetened beverages

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Nigeria’s House of Representatives has adopted a motion to formulate a tax policy on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in Nigeria.

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The motion, which was presented by the House Committee Chairman on Pilgrims Affairs, Abubakar Naralaba at plenary on Tuesday, identified the risks posed by SSBs to the health of Nigerians as factor for the proposed legislation.

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The lawamaker noted that Nigeria is the fourth-highest SSBs consuming country in the world asking that a 5 to 10 percent excise tax be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages in the country.

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.

The House however amended a part of the motion when member representing Ukwa East/Ukwa West federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, drew attention to the excise duty portion saying the cost might fall back on the consumers.

Also Read : Illicit financial flows: House of Reps invites EFCC, ICPC chairmen

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.

NASR is a coalition of non-governmental organizations advocating for policy measures to tackle the health risks of consuming SSBs.

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.

He maintained that the proposed tax will be effective in reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the country.