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ECOWAS Galvinises Experts for Validation of Draft Directives on Tobacco

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ExxonMobil
  THE ECOWAS Commission is galvanizing national experts from its member states on the validation of the draft directives relating to the harmonization of legislations which institute a system for authenticating, monitoring, tracing and fiscal verification of Tobacco products manufactured in or imported into the region. A two-day meeting on this exercise which began in Abuja, Nigeria on October 16, is also meant to review tax convention on income, capital and inheritance from ECOWAS Member States. Charging participants to work effectively to obtain “convincing results” from the meeting, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Laouali Chaibou referred to the regional Meeting held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in July 2017. That meeting upheld among others, that a strong taxation of tobacco products is a major contributor to the fight against tobacco consumption, especially in developing countries and in Africa, where tobacco products prices are extremely low. The Commissioner noted that the ECOWAS Commission is looking forward to a careful consideration of the Directive with a view of adopting same together with the support that each of the States could receive from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners for the implementation of this Directive which is consistent with the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as well as the Protocol for the Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The enabling Ouagadougou meeting had also urged ECOWAS to address taxation of tobacco products in parallel with the issue of traceability of these products among others. The Commissioner told the experts and other participants that better traceability makes it possible to codify each tobacco product, thus allowing the public administrations to control their local manufacture or import into the territory of ECOWAS Member States. “In this respect and for the purposes of the effectiveness of the tracking and traceability system, unique, secure and indelible identification marks called unique identifiers, such as codes or stamps, shall be affixed to all packages, cartridges and outside packaging of cigarettes” The Commissioner added. Stressing that experiences in many countries have shown that the traceability system can increase tax revenues by gradually eliminating the circulation of counterfeit products on the market, he noted that the traceability mechanism is an additional asset for customs and tax administrations in the effective combat of illicit trade and fraud in tobacco products throughout the Community. The WHO Programme Officer, Regional Office for Africa, William Maina lauded the partnership between ECOWAS the WHO and other partners on the task of mitigating the effects of illicit drugs and Tobacco. He stressed  that more work needs to be done to reduce the impact and supply of tobacco products including exposure to secondary tobacco smoke in the knowledge that it is part of the causes of some of the world’s deadliest diseases such as cancer. Declaring the Meeting open, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewale noted that Nigeria was very conscious of the need to ratify the relevant protocol and conventions as an unregulated Tobacco trade “possess danger not only to public health but to our environment. It exacerbates poverty” Quoting WHO figures which indicate that about 7 million people all over the world are adversely affected by Tobacco, he said the Framework Convention on tobacco control represents a win, win as it helps to reduce consumption of tobacco products and at the same time guarantees increased revenue for Member states. A critical document which has also been submitted for the consideration of the experts, borders on the adoption of a Supplementary Act on the non-double taxation of natural and legal persons within the Community area. The adoption of this regulation aims to prevent ECOWAS Member States from being forced to sign bilateral agreements, and also encourage the free movement of persons and goods within the Community for commercial and non-commercial purposes while guaranteeing against multiple taxation. This Additional Act makes for the possibility of creating a common fiscal framework by strengthening economic relations and promoting economic activities between the economic operators of the Member States. It is aided by the provisions of Article 40 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty.   –  Oct 17, 2017 @ 13:43 GMT

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