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Government starts collecting health levy

10/02/2017 00:00:00
by NewZiana
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa

HARARE: Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, says the health fund levy has come into effect starting this month.

Chinamasa had initially erroneously stated that Zimbabweans with mobile phones would start being levied from Jan 1, this year.

The levy - five cents taxed on every US dollar of mobile phone airtime and data - is meant to lessen the country's dependence on donor funding for health services.

A shrinking tax base has constrained the government's capacity to invest in the public health delivery system, which is now being augmented with resources from development partners.

Briefing the media on the modalities of the levy, Chinamasa said Thursday that collections would be deposited directly into a special account held by the Ministry of Finance.

"I would not want this levy, these funds to be eaten up by bureaucracy. So the decision which has been taken by the Ministry was that a special account will be opened," he said.

"Those funds will be channeled into that account and disbursed directly to the Ministry of Health for the purposes for which this levy was established which is to buy drugs and also to buy equipment for public hospitals and clinics.

"We will obviously monitor what the inflows are, is it sufficient to stem the deterioration that was taking place in our health sector, we need to put a stop to that."

Chinamasa is on record saying the prevailing funding situation was not sustainable as development partners were also experiencing budget constraints, and as a result had reduced their support.

This situation has also been compounded by medical practitioners who now demand cash payments before providing services, due to none or delayed remittances by medical aid schemes.

Consequently, the majority of the patients fail to access health services.

A total of US$281.9 million was appropriated for the health sector in 2017, but this is insufficient to meet the sector's financing needs.


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