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Health group attack beverage industry for trying to compromise excise tax



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A group of health organisations, Alliance on Health Financing has condemned the beverage industry for attempting to dissuade the government from raising taxes on carbonated drinks.

In a statement made available to CAPITAL POST on Wednesday, the organisation alleged that the beverage industry has continually tried to block efforts at implementing carbonated drinks taxes, all in the interest of profit.

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Recall that the beverage industry has previously argued that taxes would collapse the industry and affect jobs, even contending that revenue gains from the taxes are “penny wise and pound foolish.”

The NGO Alliance said “The beverage manufacturers don’t really care about employment or the economy. They only care about amassing profits and getting more people hooked on their products.”

The statement further condemned the marketing of sugary beverages to young children and encouraging unhealthy dietary habits early in life.

Members of the NGO Alliance also expressed their frustration at the Senate’s disposition to side with the industry; “Nigerians are dying; poor people cannot afford nutritious food; health care costs are crushing. We are disappointed that the Senate would shun measures to relieve the burden of the masses while the insatiable industry piles up profits. We are calling on the Senate to prioritise citizens. The industry has profited enough at the expense of our health.”

The NGO Alliance cited that if pharmaceutical companies pay 20% tax for products that benefit health, then Coca-Cola, Pepsi and others should willingly pay taxes for products that damage health.

“The beverage industry needs to stop trying to derail the sugary drinks tax,” the Alliance representative said.

Responding to the industry’s statement that tax revenue gains will be negligible and the taxes will bring hardship on the people, the group expressed that “the beverage industry fails to realise that its products only provide short-term satisfaction.

In the long run, beverage consumers will suffer from diseases that come at a high cost. Ongoing treatment expenses can leave them on the brink of poverty and the country’s health system will suffer for it. We are sure that this is not what our government wants”.

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