By Abiodun Azi
Experts in the health sector have said that the newly introduced sugar tax was a welcome development in Nigeria.
They made known at a webinar organised by the Nigeria Health Watch in Lagos on Tuesday entitled: ”Does Nigeria Need Sugar Tax?”.
In his contribution, Dr Fola Adeola, Chairman, FATE Foundation, said that little savings in public financing was key to a robust economy.
Adeola also advised that whatever revenue was realised from the sugar tax should be put into development of well being of citizens.
Adeola, who described sugar tax as a good idea, said he supported the policy in order to reduce alcohol consumption.
He also advised that revenue realised from sugar tax should be channeled into what he called beneficial aspects of the ecosystem.
Contributing, Dr Kate Mandeville, Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank, said that 66 countries around the world had been targeting sugar tax and the same model would be used in Nigeria.
Mandeville said that eating solid food and getting filled up was not the same as taking liquid food.
She said that tax on sugar would impact through retail prices, raising public awareness (e.g health effects of sugar), among others.
According her, sugar tax is not a one off thing but a conversation.
She also said that sugar tax would serve as a deterrent and reduce consumption.
She said that there was a need to develop a body of work in terms of education to make sure that year-to- year, sugar taxes were raised.
Also, Dr Pamela Ajayi, President, Health Care Federation of Nigeria, said that reduction in sugar use would not affect everyone.
Ajayi said that sugar products were highly advertised and would affect those directly involved with sugar related products.
According to her, a reduction in sugar consumption means a reduction on imports from sugar because Nigeria does not produce sugar.
She said that since imports would be very low, such tax would be a huge plus for Nigeria and taxes channeled to the health care industry.
She noted that there would be decrease in smoking prevalence and it would ensure equity for the poor if the funds are properly used on the vulnerable people.