Why Lawmakers Want Tariff On Medicine Removed
Nigeria's drug manufacturing strength was again brought under scrutiny at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, with the lawmakers unanimously agreeing that the tariff on importation of medicine should be removed.
The executives will, however, need to regularise this decision for it to hold waters.
The House said that the delisting should be implemented until such a time local manufacturing would have reasonably guaranteed not only the quality but the quantum of medicines to be administered in the country.
A 20 percent tariff was imposed on imported medicines, but Obinna Onwubuariri, a member of the opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, said the tariff would have grave effect on the nation’s healthcare.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had communicated the approval of the President on an import adjustment tax list wherein 20 per cent tax was imposed on medicines.
Mr Onwubuariri told the lawmakers the medicines include imported paracetamol tablets and syrup, and chloroquine tablets syrup.
He highlighted that until this import list, Nigeria had a zero per cent duty on imported drugs as a result of the recommendation of an ECOWAS Committee on Health that member states impose zero per cent on imported drugs.
"This is given that the healthcare needs of the region cannot be adequately addressed by local manufacturing."
He expressed concern that the situation that necessitated the ECOWAS recommendation prior to 2013 had not abated.
According to him, the re-introduction of duty and imposition of a whopping 20 per cent tax on imported medicines will aggravate the already deplorable condition of the nation’s healthcare delivery system and could lead to high death rates.
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The House then mandated its Committee on Healthcare Services to ensure implementation and report back in four weeks for further legislative action.