Thursday 8 December 2022


More taxes on beer, tobacco and fast foods have been suggested by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care to boost funding for health.

This is contained in the committee’s report on the 2023 national Budget tabled in Parliament this week.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care submitted a bid of $820 billion to Treasury for its programmes, but received an allocation of $473,76 billion, leaving a funding gap of $346,28 billion, even though health is one of the major items in the Budget.

The committee proposed to Government the introduction of the new taxes and ring-fencing of a health fund levy.

“This fund will target medical equipment, laboratories, and medicines. The Budget allocation for this levy needs to be in United States dollars to cater for the import of most medical equipment, drugs and accessories,” reads the report.

The committee also proposed the creation of a road fund levy to cater for casualty evacuations and treatment from road accidents and treatment of those injured in the accidents.

If introduced, this will go towards blood procurement, ambulances and emergency services,” said the committee.

The committee wanted promotion of public-private partnerships to invest in quinary (specialist) health services.

The Zimbabwe diaspora community could ride on this facility as Government was providing land as an incentive towards investment in this area.

“PPPs can also be used for the creation of private wings in big referral hospitals and funds collected from these are then used to subsidise poor patients,” the committee said.

“Therefore, big companies, including big mining companies among others, can be incentivised to participate in this initiative where they will bring latest medical equipment and other requisite infrastructure.

“A PPP model that is already running at United Bulawayo Hospitals for orthopaedic services to children can be replicated.”

The committee also lobbied for more “sin taxes” on tobacco and alcohol to fund treatment of non-communicable diseases caused by the consumption of the products.

A sin tax is an economic slang term for an excise tax specifically levied on certain goods deemed harmful to society and individuals, such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, candies, soft drinks and fast foods among others.

Proposing a tax on manufactured and retail foods that cause obesity, the committee said, would fund investigations and treatment of diabetes; arthritis and dental disease that arose from the consumption of such foods.

“A tax on beer and alcohol substance manufacturers should also be introduced as consumption of these has mental health implications. Allocate the collected funds towards operations or rehabilitation and detoxing centres.” Herald


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