Economists have called on the Federal Government to consider imposing at least 20 per cent excise tax on all sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce their consumption.

The experts, who made this call, yesterday, in Abuja at a roundtable convened by the National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR), said the reduction in the consumption of carbonated drinks would prevent their harmful effects on poor Nigerians.

Reiterating the World Health Organisations (WHO) recommendations, World Bank Senior Specialist, Olumide Okunola, emphasised the need to deploy taxes from all sugar-sweetened beverages to support health service delivery.

A representative of NASR, Omei Bongos-Ikwe, disclosed that there is a positive correlation between the intake of carbonated drinks and type-two diabetes, stroke and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

He said NCDs affect people of all social classes, adding that the poor are mostly unable to afford the high costs of treatment.

Bongos-Ikwe recalled that the NASR had provided evidence from several geographies, including South Africa, where similar taxes have worked to reduce the consumption of carbonated drinks and other sugary beverages.

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“The NASR Coalition and its partners, comprising 16 health groups, had previously petitioned the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, in an open letter urging the government to effect the proposed carbonated drinks tax,” he said.

Chairman, House Committee on Pilgrims, Abubakar Hassan Nalaraba, said the National Assembly would support a carbonated drink tax, reaffirming his support for the proposal.