A coalition of non-governmental organisations, the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR), has called on the Federal Government to ensure the implementation of the sugar-sweetened beverages tax (SSB Tax).
Recall that the SSB tax was introduced in the Finance Act and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 31st of December, 2021.
However, the coalition’s call was on the heels of the FG’s failure to meet its June 1st takeoff of the sugar tax regulation.
A representative of the coalition, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, in a statement she issued in Abuja, said the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning was supposed to announce the framework for enforcement and the timeline for the implementation of the sugar tax that was introduced late last year.
The General Secretary of the Nigerian Diabetes Association and co-chair of the coalition, Comrade Bernard Enyia, lamented that backlash from the Soda industry slowed down the implementation of the tax.
“The backlash from the soda industry is slowing down the implementation of the tax. People think that the sugar tax is trying to impoverish them and add to inflation,” he said.
Enyia, who is a person living with disabilities, explained that the tax was meant to ease the suffering of people living with diabetes.
He further explained that enlightening people on the importance of the tax and how it will be used as a health policy tool toward the treatment of non-communicable diseases will help in changing their minds about supporting the tax.
Mr. Zacks Onwe of TalkHealth Nigeria, on his part, urged the coalition to activate community stakeholders to call out the government for refusing to implement the tax.