By A Correspondent-The Minister of Health and Child Care, Vice President Costantino Chiwenga, says the government should introduce taxes on beer and cigarettes to raise money for medical services.
Chiwenga who was speaking during a pre-budget seminar for parliamentarians in Victoria Falls where he was the guest of honour said this will help avoid overtaxing every citizen. He said:
The ministry is proposing that a certain percentage of the ZINARA funds be ring-fenced to finance health services such as purchasing of ambulances required in cases of road traffic accidents and the treatment of victims of accidents requiring hospitalisation.
It is also proposed that a certain number of cigarettes be reserved for financing health, for example, for every five packets sold one goes to the national health services. With regards to alcohol, a certain number of bottles should contribute to financing healthcare services.
Chiwenga said the taxes shall be collected from the source, where manufacturers will be asked to furnish the government with details of quantities made since it is impossible to collect the “two per cent tax from non-users of these things.” He added:
So let’s have a cent from alcohol, cigarettes and ZINARA fees, to fund national health services.
He challenged Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube to honour the Abuja Declaration where African states agreed to commit at least 15 per cent of the national budget for health services.
The ministry was allocated 13 per cent in the 2021 budget.
Chiwenga made the proposal in response to parliamentarians who had proposed that the treasury should introduce a 1.5 per cent cancer levy across all sectors of the economy to fund cancer-related medical needs.
His proposal comes when members of the public have complained over many taxes that are leaving their pockets dry.
Some criticise the government for failing to curb tax evasion by big companies and too many tax exemptions.