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Coalition Protests Suspension of SSB Tax, Calls for Cut in Insulin Tariffs

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National Action on Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR) has criticised the suspension of the sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax and has also demanded a reduction in insulin tariffs.

Coalition Protests Suspension of SSB Tax, Calls for Cut in Insulin Tariffs

Science Nigeria reported that the coalition claims that these decisions have severe repercussions for public health and pose a direct threat to individuals with diabetes.

Addressing stakeholders at a meeting in Abuja on Monday, the NASR Coalition, which has been advocating for health-focused policies, including the N10 per litre excise tax in the 2021 Finance Act, urged the government to reinstate the SSB tax and lower insulin tariffs.

Dr. Adamu Umar, president of the Nigeria Cancer Society (NCS) and co-chairman of the NASR Coalition, emphasised the necessity of these measures for improving the health of Nigerians and reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases.

Umar stated, “SSB consumption is a modifiable risk factor for non-communicable diseases, including diabetes mellitus, cancers, and heart diseases. It is, therefore, pertinent to have proactive measures in place to curtail the harmful effects of these products”.

Expressing concern about the temporary suspension of the SSB tax, the coalition called for increased taxation on sugary beverages, aligning with global best practices. Additionally, they urged the government to provide subsidies for insulin and remove tariffs, ensuring a better quality of life for Nigerians.

“We demand that taxes on insulin be removed, and revenue from sugary drinks taxes can be used to subsidise insulin treatments for patients,” said Umar, highlighting the potential benefits of pro-health taxes like the SSB tax in promoting a healthier population.

Mr. Bernard Enyia, national secretary of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, echoed these sentiments, expressing disappointment over the suspension of the SSB tax.

He emphasised the urgent need to reinstate the deduction in sugar taxes for the sake of those already living with diabetes.

Ms. Funmi Adefila-Osiegbu, member of the coalition and executive director of Bundies Care Support Initiative, stressed the importance of reducing the burden on Nigerians in accessing healthcare. She advocated for the restoration of the SSB tax to contribute to health financing, directing generated revenue from sweetened beverage taxes to healthcare.

According to Science Nigeria, health experts and individuals affected by diabetes joined the coalition in expressing their outrage over the policy changes.

Dr. Sarah Thompson emphasised that obesity and related diseases are major public health concerns requiring immediate attention. Suspending the SSB tax, according to her, sends the wrong message and undermines efforts to combat these health issues.

A diabetes patient and coalition member, highlighted the life-saving nature of insulin for those with diabetes.

He emphasised the need for affordable insulin and called on policymakers to prioritise public health over short-term economic considerations.

The coalition’s stance reflects a growing sentiment among health experts and affected individuals who believe that reinstating the SSB tax and reducing insulin tariffs are critical steps in tackling the rising rates of obesity and associated health complications in Nigeria.


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Customs Says No NIN, No Food as FG Begins Distribution of Seized Food Items

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Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has commenced the distribution of seized food items across the country, following a mandate from the federal government, in a bid to alleviate the economic hardships faced by Nigerians.

Customs Says No NIN, No Food as FG Begins Distribution of Seized Food Items

Beneficiaries would be required to provide a verifiable National Identification Number (NIN) to access the assistance.

Wale Adeniyi, customs comptroller-general, announced the initiative during a flag-off event in Lagos, highlighting the collaboration with other agencies to ensure direct distribution to those in need.

The distribution targets various segments of the population, including artisans, teachers, and religious organizations, with an emphasis on reducing food prices.

Adeniyi assured the public of the safety of the distributed rice, certified by NAFDAC, and outlined measures to prevent misuse or diversion.

The operation addresses food hoarding and smuggling, contributing to the government’s broader strategy to stabilize food prices and enhance national food security.

 

 

 


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Access Bank, FG Partner to Provide N50bn Funding for MSMEs

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Access Bank has said that it will be working with the Office of the Vice President to provide N50 billion as soft loans and grants to four million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), in the country.

Chioma Ogwo, Head, Emerging Businesses at Access Bank Plc, disclosed this at the Inaugural Job Creation and MSME Quarterly Communications Forum in Abuja on Thursday.

Ogwo said the initiative was aimed at empowering businesses in Nigeria, by building their capacities and providing them with financial support.

According to her, 4 million MSMEs are expected to be empowered every year for four years, with 70,000 having access to finance while 300,000 will receive training.

She also mentioned that as part of the initiative, selected SMEs will have the chance to travel overseas and observe how businesses operate in other nations through its Business Exchange Programme.

Ogwo said: “So, this initiative, called the Youth Thrive by Access, is focused on MSMEs and we are looking at empowering them. There are different ways in which we are going to empower them. We are going to empower them by building their capacity and giving them access to affordable finance.

“We are going to build their capacities in different ways. There is going to be digital, technical, and also, skill acquisition training. With regards to finance, we are going to be giving them loans, and we are also going to be giving them grants.

“The grants are free. They are not paying us back. But, we are only giving grants to deserving SMEs who have done very well and there are price ranges for different categories.

“So, we have earmarked 50 billion for this intervention. For the first year, we will look at it and then will would review it”

While praising Access Bank for the initiative, Mr. Temitola Adekunle-Johnson, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and MSMEs, Office of the Vice-President, stated that the objective was to remove obstacles to MSMEs’ loan access and to secure lower interest rates for them.

Johnson added that after evaluating the initiative’s effectiveness, the federal government would then consider whether to expand the funding.

According to him, “What we are trying to achieve is to be able to guarantee seamless and easy access to funding for the SMEs. We want businesses to be able to apply for funding and be sure that in the worst case, in 14 days, you have the funds that you need for your business.

“We do not want businesses to apply for loans and be waiting for disbursement in six weeks. Some of these businesses can fold up within those months. So, what we want, and what they have promised us, which we know they have the capacity to deliver on, is that this disbursements will be quick after the loan assessments are processed, so that we will help reduce the bottlenecks of MSMEs running from pillar to looking for funding.”


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MoneyMaster PSB Records Increase in Customer Base

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MoneyMaster Payment Service Bank, promoted and backed by digital services company Globacom has continued to witness tremendous increase in its customer base since it commenced operations.

The PSB which launched commercial operations in May 2022 in order to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria is focused on the unbanked and under-banked in the country.

The number of customers has been on increase with majority of them attracted by the bank’s digital channels such as USSD, mobile app and internet banking which allow them to open accounts, buy airtime and data, pay utility bills and perform other services hitch free.

The PSB has also embarked several innovations, with new services introduced in recent times for the benefit of its customers across the country.

These developments, industry sources said propelled Nigerians to join the bank in order to enjoy series of top – notch financial services and also conduct their banking transactions assurance promptly.

The sources disclosed further that “There are currently over 4,000 billers on the MMPSB platform and that the number is growing on a daily basis.

“Through the platform, customers are able to pay for many essential services such as airtime, data, electricity, cable subscription, etc”.

The PSB is also retooling and reengineering its operation with several new initiatives to be unveiled soon for better customer experience, thus assuring them of exciting times ahead.


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