Don’t grant incentives to tobacco firms, Govt-led group urges Nigeria

The UN health agency warned that tobacco’s killer toxins also wreak havoc on the environment. [Photo: ITV.com]
The UN health agency warned that tobacco’s killer toxins also wreak havoc on the environment. [Photo: ITV.com]

A Technical Working Group (TWG) on Tobacco Taxation has urged the federal government to exclude tobacco companies from benefiting from the Export Expansion Grant (EEG) and other incentives.

The group is led by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI).

A statement by the Federal Ministry of Health, which contained in list of recommendations, was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lafia by its representative, Toma Malau.

NAN reports that the group held meetings recently in Keffi, Nasarawa state and in Abuja to deliberate on progress made so far on the increase of tax on tobacco products with the view to discouraging tobacco smoking across the country.

The EEG scheme is a vital incentive required for the stimulation of export oriented activities that will lead to significant growth of the non-oil export sector and the diversification of the economy.

The group said it did not want tobacco industries to benefit from EEG, a post-shipment incentive designed to improve the competitiveness of Nigerian products and commodities and expand the country’s volume and value of non-oil exports.

“Due to inherent health implications associated with tobacco consumption, the TWG in its recommendations advocated that the FMITI should give consideration to tobacco control by excluding tobacco companies from benefiting from EEG and any other incentives,’’ it said.

It explained that the move would go a long way in reducing tobacco-related diseases and deaths in the country.

The group also advocated for the establishment of an automated excise tax collection using the track and trace system.

It called on relevant fiscal authorities to collaborate with one another, share and harmonise data for effective implementation of tax control measures.

The TWG also appealed for a wider collaboration between the Media and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and other relevant bodies in tobacco control.

It urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give approval for the implementation of the ECOWAS tax directives which prescribed a minimum of 50 per cent duty plus a specific excise tax of at least 0.02 dollars per stick of cigarette.

The members of the group include representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance and Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

Others are representatives of Nigerian Customs Service, Federal Inland Revenue Service, the Media, some NGOs among others.

(NAN)


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