By Ukpe Philip
The Nigerian Medical Association has backed the N10 excise tax imposed by the government on non-alcoholic drinks.
The excise duty tax is one of the amendments made to the Finance Act 2021 which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 31 last year.
The provision permits a N10 per liter excise duty tax on all non-alcoholic, carbonated and sweetened beverages, to enable the government raise revenue for health-related and other critical expenditures.
The development has generated reactions from manufacturers and consumers when it was first made public by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, at a public presentation of the 2022 budget in January.
The campaign against the N10 tax on sugar drinks has intensified and it is trending on Twitter as #DontKillSoftDrinks.
But in a chat with THE WHISTLER, the President of the Nigerian Medical Association Abuja Chapter, Charles Ugwuanyi, said the tax would help reduce sugar intake through consumption of carbonated drinks.
Ugwuanyi said, “The decision has different angles. First is the government’s decisions and policy, the second is the medical implication of excess sugar in the system and the third is consumer protection.
“We know that everyone has a specific amount of insulin which is the hormone that the body produces to deal with exposure to glucose. If you exceed this amount of reserves that you have by excessive consumption of not only sugar but any carbohydrate that will eventually be broken down in the body to generate sugar then, you will put so much pressure on the insulin reserves and the body is not able to cope and the effect is that sugar will accumulate in the body. That is what we call diabetes.
“If you watch, we have embarked on the creation of awareness of the rising cases of diabetes in our environment. Most people who are diabetic are also hypotensive.”
According to him, excessive consumption of sugar drinks could result in diabetes.
He said the association is in agreement with the decision on health grounds.
The NMA boss noted, “Diabetes destroys the organs in the body, the heart, the kidney, the brain lungs, etc. Part of the primary responsibility of government is to work with data available to them to protect citizens. I believe the relevant agencies in the government have advised them to take measures to reduce the Incidence of diabetes.
“And that is primary prevention. They feel that increasing the tariff on such items is right.
“If that is the intention, we will also not be in disagreement. In summary, as a matter of fact, the awareness we embark on from the NMA point of view is to get people to understand the health implications of giving your system excess sugar.
“If it is on health grounds, the policy is beneficial to Nigerians. Prevention I’d better than cure.”
But the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise said that the N10 per liter excise duty imposed on non-alcoholic beverages will inflict more pain on Nigerians.
Muda Yusuf, the Chief Executive Officer of the CPPE told THE WHISTLER that it will add to the cost of manufacturing.
He said, “These are very difficult times for manufacturers as they contend with escalating cost of production arising from elevated energy costs, rising operating expenses, sharp currency depreciation, forex market illiquidity, galloping inflation and numerous structural bottlenecks.
“They are also experiencing significant spikes in the cost of raw materials, cost of funds, high import duty, the prohibitive cost of transportation and high cost of logistics.
“A huge proportion of these costs cannot be passed on to the consumers because of weak purchasing power and high consumer resistance.”
NMA Backs FG’s Tax On Sugar Drinks, Says Govt Must Protect Health Of Citizens is first published on The Whistler Newspaper
Source: The Whistler.