NTCA decry govt failure to operationalize tobacco control fund
By Adamu Abuh, Abuja
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has decried the delay by the federal government to operationalize the tobacco control fund.
NTCA chairman, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi at a press conference in Abuja wondered by the Health Ministry failed to live up to its promises on Tuesday, 28th of June, during the 2022 World No Tobacco Day, to operationalize the fund within one month.
Oluwafemi argued that the immediate operationalization of the tobacco control fund has led to loss of billions of naira required to ensure the protection of public health from the destructive effects of tobacco in Nigeria.
“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,” he noted.
“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 illegal, 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.
“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.”
Flanked by members of the NTCA, Oluwafemi enjoined the authorities of the Federal Ministry of Health to step up to its responsibility and make the Tobacco Control Fund fully operational as soon as possible.
He further urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Finance, and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation to also play their roles in the setting up of the tobacco control fund account to avert further revenue loss, and the fund is made operational as prescribed by the NTC Act, 2015.
Culled from The Guardian