By Sulaimon Salau
The Federal Government has continued to receive accolades for the approving excise duty for alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.
The new regime, which took effect from yesterday (Monday, June 4, 2018), has received supports of many stakeholders who believed that the move is to deter many Nigerians against unnecessary abuse of such items.
A clearing agent and Chairman, T$K Commercial Enterprises Worldwide, Samuel Obe, said the hike in duty is a welcome development, because anybody that wants enjoy cigarette and alcohol should be able to pay additional price.
“He is on his own and he knows what he is enjoying from the items, so such a person should be ready to pay. It has happened to rice before, so if you insist you want it, then you should be prepared to pay.
Besides, it is one of the moves by the Federal Government to caution people against abuse of cigarettes and alcohol,”
Chief Executive Officer, Salim International Nigeria Limited, John Ofobike, commended the Federal Government for the new duty regime.
He said cigarette and alcohol are taken for pleasure, hence the smokers and drinkers should prepare to pay extra amount without remorse.
“If they are items of necessity, everybody will raise an eyebrow. For example, if its food or drugs, we will all move against it, but now it is the other way round, so I find no fault in the policy,” he said.
An importer that specializes on alcohol and non-alcohol drinks, Israel Arogundade, said the new tax regime means additional financial burden on his business, although he claimed that the burden would be transferred to the final consumers.
“The government did not put us into consideration before increasing the duty on alcohol and cigarette. It will definitely affect our business, but we will continue to push for relief.
It will discourage importation of the goods but I am sure that the drinkers and smokers will still patronize us, even if the number will reduce. I am confident we will remain in business,” he said.
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in defending the increase, had said that the reviews would be from 2018 to 2020 and was aimed at raising government’s revenue.
She also said it would reduce the health hazards associated with tobacco-related diseases and alcohol abuse.
“The Tariff Technical Committee (TCC) recommended the slight adjustment in the excise duty charges after cautious considerations of the government’s fiscal policy measures for 2018 and the reports of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund Technical Assistance Mission on Nigeria’s fiscal policy.
The effect of the excise duty rates adjustment on trade and investment was also assessed by the federal ministry of trade and investment and it adopted the recommendations of the TTC.
Furthermore, peer country comparisons were also carried out showing Nigeria as being behind the curve in the review of excise duty rates on alcoholic beverages and tobacco,” she said.
Adeosun said under the new rates for tobacco, in addition to the 20 percent ad-valorem rate, each stick of cigarette will attract one naira specific rate.
She said by 2019, tobacco will attract two naira specific rate per stick while it will attract N2.90 kobo specific rate per stick by 2020.