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Enforce ban on foreign drinks, LCCI tells FG

The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the Federal Government to protect domestic manufacturers from unfair competition by foreign companies in the face of the high cost of production that will be triggered by the new excise duty on carbonated drinks.

The chamber also advised the government to use the revenue generated from the excise tax to improve the country’s grossly inadequate health infrastructure.

The Director-General, LCCI, Dr Chinyere Almona, said this in a statement by the chamber on Thursday. According to her, since the government is insisting on the new tax, obliging to it is inevitable.

“If the President insists he wants it, we have to oblige him,” she said in the statement.

In the statement, some of the downsides of the new tax were stated to include decreasing demands and job loss.

In light of this, the chamber advised the government to protect those producing domestically by enforcing the prohibition of imported drinks.

The statement read in part, “The Federal Government has announced it will charge an excise levy of N10 per litre on all non-alcoholic carbonated sweetened beverages to discourage excessive sugar consumption and boost revenue.

“The immediate concerns are the likely increase in prices which may lead to a decrease in demand and, consequently, loss of jobs due to a reduction in production activities.

“The prohibition on imported drinks should be better enforced to protect domestic production from unfair competition in the face of the high cost of production in Nigeria.”

The LCCI affirmed its support for the government’s drive for more revenue and the pro-health considerations of stakeholders.

It, however, advised that the revenue accumulated should be used to improve the health sector, with an upward review of the budget allocation to the health sector in the next 10 years.

The statement further read, “The chamber supports both the government’s revenue drive and the pro-health considerations of several stakeholders.

“We, however, recommend that the realized revenue from these levies be channelled into improving the country’s grossly inadequate health infrastructure. The allocation to the health sector in the 2022 Federal Budget of N463bn should be reviewed upward to the region of a trillion naira invested into the sector in the next ten years.”

The chamber also expressed concern on the possibility of a hostile business environment for the private sector as government-owned enterprises are urged to meet revenue targets.

It also urged public health agencies to regulate the production of sugary drinks to lessen the adverse effect on human health.

“The chamber is also concerned about the government’s stance on the enforcement of revenue targets on government-owned enterprises.

“The operations of these Government-Owned Enterprises should not build up into a hostile business environment where the private sector will find it challenging to thrive.

“And beyond the levying of taxes on carbonated drinks to force a reduction in consumption, we urge the various public health agencies to regulate the production of sugary drinks to reduce their negative effect on human health,” the statement read.

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