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Lagos govt to boost public health, plans levy on SSBs

Prof. Akin Abayomi | File Image

.Meets with Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), United States-based Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (CSEA)

By Valentine Amanze

The rising cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Lagos will soon be over as the state government is considering a pro-health levy on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB) to boost public health.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, disclosed this during a meeting with officials of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), United States-based Global Health Advocacy Incubator, and the Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (CSEA) in Lagos on Tuesday.

Abayomi, who was responding to the delegation’s presentation of a simulation study of the “Potential Fiscal and Public Health Effects of SSB tax in Nigeria,” explained that the SSB levy would contribute to driving the state’s human capital agenda – healthier children and good nutrition – and positively impact its health and education sectors.

Also read: CAPPA decries tobacco industry’s meddling in Nigeria’s public health policies

Abayomi said that funds raised through such a policy could be “channelled specifically to the areas of the consequence of those consumptions. So, it can go to health and education, because we’re now using it to drive a human capital agenda, which is healthier children and good nutrition.

“Health access and going to good schools: these produce our human capital infrastructure. In Lagos, we have two kinds of infrastructure: a physical one and human infrastructure. That’s how we look at it.”

The delegation had pointed out that Nigeria was the 4th highest soft drinks consuming country in the world, while proposing among others, that to wean Nigerians off their addiction to SSBs and bring down the NCDs burden, the federal government ought to increase the SSB Tax to N130 per litre, from the current N10.

It also said that the policy could earn the government an estimated N729 billion in tax revenue, which could be allocated to strengthening the health sector.

CAPPA’s Executive Director, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, assured that the tax policy when implemented would lower the cases of obesity and high blood pressure in Nigeria.

His words: “We think that this is one of the tools that we can use to lower NCDs that are becoming a big burden in Nigeria – including obesity, high blood pressure, etc.

“The government imposed a N10 per litre tax on SSBs in 2021, which is actually five kobo for 50cl of SSBs. At that time, it (SSBs) was selling for N100. It is a fixed tax. Today, it is selling for N300. The government tax is still N10. And if you look at the inflation rate, that, in itself, needs to have been improved.

“We commissioned the Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (CSEA) to look at the potential health and fiscal impacts of SSB tax. We did a simulation, and even before the floating of the naira when this study was completed, the simulation projected that N130 should be the appropriate tax per litre of SSBs in Nigeria.

 “We see Lagos as one of the champions of public health policies, and how we can take this further. “We are looking for support because we will soon be looking at a national legislation that will make Sin Tax a much more sustainable law rather than every year and at that point we will be looking at champions to speak for this.”

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