The Nigeria Labour Congress has
appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the
leadership of the two chambers of the National Assembly to suspend the re-introduction of excise duties
on locally produced non-alcoholic carbonated drinks.
provided a number of very cogent reasons why government should
not go ahead with the decision to impose fresh taxes on soft drinks.
One of the reasons given by the labour union is that the re-introduction of
excise duties on non-alcoholic, carbonated and sugary drinks will
impose immense hardship on ordinary Nigerians who easily keep
hunger at bay with a bottle of soft drink and maybe a loaf of bread.
Nlc’s major concern is the mass hunger that would result from the slightest
increase in the retail price of soft drinks owing to imposition of excise
duties as the product would be priced beyond the reach of millions
of ordinary and poor NigerIans.
According to NLC, they were also alerted by the complaint of manufacturers of soft
drinks in Nigeria that the re-introduction of excise duties on their
products would lead to very sharp decline in sales, forced reduction
in production, and a sure roll back in investments with the certainty
of job losses and possibly shut down of their manufacturing plants.
Nlc recalled that, this was also the complaint of tyre
manufacturing companies such as Dunlop and Michelin which was
overlooked by government until the two companies relocated to
neighbouring Ghana. A similar situation is playing out with the soft
drinks manufacturing sub-sector. Government should pay attention.
With 38% of the entire manufacturing output in Nigeria and 22.5%
share representation of the entire manufacturing sector in Nigeria,
the food and beverage industry is the largest industrial sub sector in
our country. The food and beverage sub-sector has generated to the
coffers of government N202 billion as VAT in the past five years, N7.3
billion as Corporate Social Responsibility and has created 1.5 million
decent jobs both directly and indirectly. There is thus no gainsaying
the fact that the industry is a golden goose that must be kept alive.
The Congress insisted that,The health reason proffered by government as reason for the reintroduction of the excise duties seems altruistic.
They however wonder
why the government did not place the excise duties on sugar itself as
a commodity rather than on carbonated drinks.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on December 31, 2021, signed
into law the Finance Act 2022. Some of the provisions of the Finance
Act include the imposition of excise duties on locally produced nonalcoholic, carbonated, and sugary drinks.
The reason offered by
government for this decision was to discourage the consumption of
sugar by Nigerians as government claims that soft drinks have
contributed to upsurge of cases of obesity and diabetes in Nigeria.
In a letter dated 27th November 2021