The Federal Ministry of Health has announced its unwavering commitment to doubling the tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs).
The current tax rate of 10 percent is set to be elevated to 20 percent, marking a significant stride towards promoting healthier beverage choices, curbing the consumption of processed sugars, and contributing to a healthier future for both current citizens and generations yet to come.
This groundbreaking move comes in response to a global surge in health issues associated with high sugar intake, such as childhood obesity, diabetes, and dental problems.
Several nations, including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal, have already aligned with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of imposing a 20 percent tax on SSBs.
Nigeria now joins the ranks of these nations, aiming to dissuade consumers from purchasing sugar-sweetened products while encouraging the adoption of healthier beverage alternatives.
Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, Director/Head of the Public Health Department at the Federal Ministry of Health, unveiled this initiative during the Pro-Health Tax Policy Campaign on SSB. The campaign, held at the Federal Ministries of Finance and Health in Abuja, is set to usher in a transformative shift in public health policy.
Dr. Anyaike said, “Taxation on SSBs has been successfully implemented in countries like Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, and so many others to reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. The introduction and sustenance of the tax in Nigeria will also reduce excess consumption of SSBs and thus reduce the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). We are committed to attaining the global best practice of at least 20% of the final retail price on all SSBs as the current 10 naira per liter price fails to achieve that. This campaign aligns with other government efforts in improving the public health of the Nigerian populace to meet up with the global priority of significantly reducing NCDs.”
Joining the chorus for healthier beverage choices, Edozie Chukwuma, a representative of the National Action and Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR), emphasized the need for the government to increase the SSB tax.
He underlined that the campaign aims to raise awareness among the general public, policymakers, and government authorities about the hazards associated with SSB consumption.
“Basically, we’re calling on the government to enact laws to put together a tax that prohibits or reduces the consumption of sugary drinks. This tax will work by increasing the affordability of sugary drinks, thereby providing revenue that could be used to support healthcare, especially in dealing with the non-communicable disease burden in the country,” Chukwuma stated.
A poignant message was delivered by Dr. Peter Agada, a person living with diabetes, during the campaign. Dr. Agada urged Nigerians to steer clear of carbonated drinks, emphasizing that while the cost of purchasing these products may be low, the cost of treating diabetes is far higher.
He called upon the Federal Government to urgently subsidize the cost of diabetes management, including medications and monitoring devices, to reduce preventable deaths.
Dr. Agada highlighted the importance of accessible health insurance schemes for non-governmental employees and practitioners and encouraged the government to make diabetic drugs more affordable.
“One out of 17 Nigerians is living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and many more are at risk. Diabetes is a pandemic and a life-threatening disease. It’s a destroyer of lives all over the world right now,” he warned.
Manufacturers Cut Spending on Alternative Energy Sources as Electricity Supply Improves
Nigerian manufacturers reduced their spending on alternative energy sources by 21.25% to N60.4 billion in the first half of 2023, according to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).
This decline is attributed to the increased availability of electricity from the national grid, which improved to 11.3 hours per day, up from 10.2 hours in the same period of 2022.
The report also indicated a slight increase in daily power outages to 4.7 times from 4.4 times in H1 2022.
These improvements in grid electricity availability have positively impacted the manufacturing sector’s energy expenditure, leading to a significant drop from N76.7 billion spent in the second half of 2022.
However, the initial high expenditure on alternative energy sources was driven by skyrocketing diesel prices.
The cost of diesel had surged due to foreign exchange challenges and the implementation of a 7.5% Value Added Tax on Automotive Gas Oil (diesel).
Diesel prices in many states had risen to between N900 and N950 per liter, which threatened the production capacity of numerous manufacturing entities.
The Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association expressed concerns about the potential closure of textile factories and job losses due to rising energy costs. Textile manufacturers, in particular, found it challenging to afford diesel at such prices.
The Chief Executive Officer of Coleman Technical Industries Limited also highlighted the increased production costs associated with higher diesel prices.
While the improvement in electricity supply is a positive development for manufacturers, the industry remains vigilant about energy costs and their impact on production.
Dangote Group Subsidiaries Contribute N474 Billion in Taxes to Federal Government Over Three Years
In a significant testament to its commitment to corporate citizenship and financial responsibility, three subsidiaries of the Dangote Group have revealed that they paid a substantial total of N474 billion in taxes to the Federal Government over the past three years.
The disclosure was made by Hashem Ahmed, an official representing the multibillion-dollar conglomerate, during the opening ceremony of the 18th Abuja International Trade Fair, which focused on the theme ‘Sustainable financing and taxation as drivers of the new economy.’
The Dangote Group, led by its President Aliko Dangote, stands as not only the largest private-sector employer but also the country’s leading taxpayer. The remarkable N474 billion contribution was primarily made by Dangote Sugar, Dangote Cement, and Dangote Salt.
Also, the group has a longstanding history of extensive financial support, empowerment initiatives, corporate social responsibility programs, sponsorships, and philanthropic endeavors, amounting to several billions of naira.
Hashem Ahmed also expressed the group’s satisfaction with the Federal Government’s commitment to tax reform policies aimed at broadening the tax base and providing essential funding for infrastructure development in the country.
The Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, who spoke at the event, announced the government’s comprehensive plan to support small businesses and startups amid Nigeria’s economic challenges.
The plan includes a N75 billion investment by March 2024 to bolster the manufacturing sector, grants for microbusinesses in every local government, and a N75 billion fund to support up to 100,000 startups and MSMEs at favorable interest rates repayable over 36 months.
The government has also initiated partnerships with tech giants like Microsoft and the African Development Bank, signaling a bright future for Nigeria’s economic growth and innovation.
The Royal Finance Empire: Liechtenstein’s LGT Group Thrives in the World of Wealth Management
In a world dominated by multinational corporations and global conglomerates, the tiny Alpine nation of Liechtenstein has been making waves with its royal finance empire, LGT Group.
This dynasty, led by Prince Hans-Adam II, boasts a legacy dating back nearly a thousand years, surviving wars, floods, and scandals.
LGT Group, the royal family’s private banking and asset management firm, recently reported record-breaking assets under management (AUM) of almost 306 billion Swiss francs ($334 billion) as of June 30, marking a remarkable 6% increase since the end of the previous year.
The Vaduz-based firm’s success is not limited to its home nation; it has been expanding its footprint globally. This month, LGT Group acquired Abrdn Plc’s discretionary fund-management business in the UK and Jersey, adding to its list of external investments since 2021.
Olivier de Perregaux, the CEO of LGT Private Banking, revealed, “We continue to look for opportunities, but we are primarily focusing on organic growth.”
LGT’s impressive growth mirrors the resurgence of Liechtenstein, which has shifted from being notorious as a tax haven to a thriving financial hub. The firm more than doubled its AUM and operating income over the past decade, bouncing back from challenges following the 2008 financial crisis.
The acquisition of talent has also played a crucial role in LGT’s ascent. The firm has been actively recruiting former Credit Suisse staff, especially after the collapse and acquisition of Credit Suisse by UBS Group AG.
This has contributed to a significant increase in LGT’s headcount, which now stands at approximately 5,000 employees.
Prince Hans-Adam’s wealth has also been on the rise, propelling him to the position of Europe’s richest royal. As the sole beneficiary of LGT, he is now ranked as the 215th richest person globally, with a fortune estimated at around $9.2 billion, a remarkable 71-spot jump since the beginning of the year.
Unlike other European monarchs, Prince Hans-Adam personally owns the family’s most valuable assets, making it the oldest fortune on Bloomberg’s wealth ranking.
The origins of this wealth date back to the 12th century when the family acquired land across what is now Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.
LGT itself was established in 1921 and acquired by the royal family during the Great Depression.
Under Prince Hans-Adam’s leadership, LGT expanded internationally, opening its first international branch in Hong Kong in 1986. Besides LGT, the royal dynasty also owns land, real estate, and an extensive art collection, with the finance empire serving as the driving force behind their fortune.
Liechtenstein’s transformation from a secretive tax haven to a transparent financial center has further bolstered LGT’s success. While the bank faced challenges during the 2008 tax evasion scandal, it rebounded in 2010 and has been on a steady growth trajectory since.
With Prince Hans-Adam’s son, Max, now serving as the chairman of LGT Group, and the family actively involved in major financial decisions, the future appears promising for this enduring royal finance empire.
LGT’s commitment to growth, both organically and through strategic acquisitions, suggests that Liechtenstein’s royal legacy in the world of finance is far from fading.
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