A Development Economist, Dr Chiwuike Uba, has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for introducing tax on sugar carbonated beverages to check the excessive consumption of such products in the country.
Uba, who is the Chairman of Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation (ACUF), gave the commendation on Saturday while giving an economist’s perspective of the development.
He said that the introduction of the N10 per litre excise duty would reduce consumption of Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs), adding that: “The tax on soft drinks is a welcome development and legislation that has been long awaited”.
According to him, Nigerians commend President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for taking the bold decision to save the country from the costs associated with high consumption of such drinks in the country.
He said: “Nigeria really needs a comprehensive Sin Tax (sugar, alcohol, tobacco consumption tax) legislation to cut consumption of potentially health-threatening products, increase revenues for health financing and/or improve the health of the population.
“We are hopeful that the Federal Government will raise excise duties on tobacco, alcohol and other potentially health-threatening products in Nigeria.
“The partial introduction of Sin Tax will not only lead to a drastic decline in the consumption of potentially harmful goods (especially SSBs) but an increase in government revenue and improvements in the population’s health.
“According to statistics, in 2019, Nigeria was the seventh largest country with the highest consumption of soft drinks in the world, with more than 49 servings of 8 ounces per capita per year.
“By the way, the market (for SSBs) is projected to grow by 17.12 per cent per year between 2021 and 2026 in the country”.
Uba noted that despite the established direct relationship between consumption of SSBs and increase in the prevalence of diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, cancer and associated deaths.
He said that the estimated average per capita consumption of soft drinks in Nigeria was approximately 57.02 liters in 2021.
The expert said that it was so because the price of these products remained affordable, adding that an increase in the price would discourage high consumption and boost agriculture through an increased consumption of organic fruits and fruit juice.
“Nigeria currently suffers from a rising prevalence of diabetes mellitus, with about 5.8 per cent (about 6 million) of adult Nigerians living with diabetes mellitus.
“In addition, it is estimated that the number of people suffering from glucose tolerance deficits will increase from 9.41 million in 2021 to 11.98 million in 2030 and to 18.79 million in 2045.
“Many children are currently living with type 2 diabetes in Nigeria, largely due to the high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.
“Regular consumption of soft drinks has been established to cause abnormally high sugar consumption,” he added.