NTCA: Nigerian government loses revenue through non-implementation of Tobacco Control Fund

NTCA: Nigerian government loses revenue through non-implementation of Tobacco Control Fund
The Federal Government has lost enormous sums of money as a result of the delay in making the Tobacco Control Fund fully effective, the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, or NTCA, warned on Thursday.

The tobacco industry in the nation is allegedly permitted to operate without a licence as a result of the government's ongoing failure to make the Tobacco Control Fund effective, according to the NTCA.

In a press conference with journalists in Abuja, the NTCA demanded the Tobacco Control Fund's operationalization, claiming that ever since the 2019 tobacco products regulation was approved, the government has been hesitant to ensure its full implementation, depriving the nation of funds that could be used to boost the economy.

Akinbode Oluwafemi, the chairman of NTCA, expressed sorrow that the tobacco business is allegedly receiving a "license-free holiday" despite its purported terrible effects on public health.

He claimed that the nation's tobacco control efforts are severely underfunded and that the delay has a negative effect on crucial tobacco control activity.

In addition, he said that the tobacco industry had continued to provide money to the government under the pretence of CSR.

Sustainable funding is essential to achieving this goal, especially as Nigeria is one of the 182 parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) who have committed to taking action to lessen the negative effects of tobacco in their nations.

He claimed that the NTC Act, 2015's provision establishing a tobacco control fund was intended to safeguard Nigeria's public health from the harmful effects of tobacco.

The Federal Ministry of Health, through the Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Disease Division, made an important commitment to fully operationalize the Tobacco Control Fund within one month on June 28, 2022, according to Oluwafemi, who emphasised that the government has yet to follow through on the promise. This was during the ministerial press briefing honouring the 2022 World No Tobacco Day.

He said, “We have watched and waited patiently to allow the ministry enough latitude to make good their promise. However, we are no longer at ease as it is now over two months since that pledge was made without any sign of fulfilment.

“The continued delay in the operationalization of the Fund is tantamount to self-injury on the FG. Revenue which should accrue to the fund from the issuance of licenses to tobacco manufacturers and distributors is being lost.

“Also, the unavailability of an operational account for the payment of licensing fees makes the operations of tobacco manufacturers, importers and distributors in the country illegally, as the companies have no licenses to back their operations.

“It is also deeply concerning that the tobacco industry with its awful public health implications is indirectly being granted a ‘license-free-holiday’ and is allowed to operate in Nigeria without licenses because of the government’s continued failure to make the Tobacco Control Fund operational.

“It is not a secret that tobacco control activities in the country are grossly underfunded and this ugly delay negatively impacts important tobacco control work.

“The tobacco industry has continued to dangle monies before the government in the guise of corporate social responsibility. The Tobacco Control Fund will give the government the impetus to do what it needs to do and to call the bluff of the ‘Greek gift’ from the Tobacco Industry.

“The Federal Ministry of Health as the primary executor of the National Tobacco Control Act must step up to its responsibility and make the Tobacco Control Fund fully operational as soon as possible.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Finance, and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation must also play their roles in the setting up of the account to ensure that the revenue loss is closed, and the Fund is running as prescribed by the NTC Act, 2015.

“Nigeria has lost a lot of funds that should accrue to it through licensing of Tobacco Industry players. This is one of the dangers of not having the Tobacco Control Fund fully operational. This dangerous delay must stop.”

Also speaking, the NTCA Programme Officer, Chibuike Nwokorie, said after 2019 tobacco regulation was approved, importers, and manufacturers of tobacco products were supposed to pay some fees that goes to the Tobacco Control Fund, noting that what the government has lost since then till now was huge.
Chima Ugo is a patriotic Nigerian, a journalist, blogger and singer who is so much interested in the internet, journalism, and blogging and have been for half a decade.