National Assembly backs proposed tax on carbonated drinks

The Chairman, House Committee on Pligrims, Hon. Abubakar Hassan Nalaraba, has disclosed that the National Assembly will support a carbonated drinks tax.

Recall that Nalaraba had earlier this year sponsored a motion, which called for a tax on carbonated drinks and a ban on misleading packaging claims.

The lawmaker spoke at a virtual stakeholder roundtable convened by the National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR) on Wednesday.

Speaking at the roundtable attended by economic experts from the World Bank and health experts from the Nigerian Cancer Society, Nalaraba also reaffirmed his support for the proposed carbonated drinks tax. 

He said: “Parliament is ready to support and work very closely with Coalition to ensure the tax is not removed from the Finance Bill.”

Reiterating the World Health Organizations’ recommendations, World Bank Senior Specialist, Olumide Okunola, said no less than a 20% excise tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce their consumption. 

He stated that tax revenue should be remitted to the health sector to support health services delivery.

Also, the NASR Coalition and its partners, comprising sixteen health groups, had previously petitioned Minister of Finance Zainab Shamsuna in an open letter, urging the government to move forward with a proposed carbonated drinks tax. 

While praising the minister for her announcement of this “pro-health” tax, the organisations provided evidence from several geographies, including South Africa, where similar taxes have worked to reduce the consumption’sof carbonated drinks and other sugary beverages.

In the statement, the Coalition cited key outcomes from South Africa’s carbonated drinks tax, known as the “health promotion levy”, which raises prices of beverages by taxing them according to the amount of sugar the drink contains. Evidence shows that such an excise tax is well-suited to address the harmful effects of sugary beverages and produce much-neededrevenue.