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National Health Fund establishment calls grow

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George Jobe

The Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) has asked the Treasury to consider establishing a National Health Fund, where financial resources collected from other sources can be deposited for public healthcare service delivery use.

In response, the Treasury has said the ministry values views which stakeholders express during budget consultation meetings.

Mhen Executive Director George Jobe told The Daily Times that part of the funds can be sourced through carbon tax, another initiative the network has been lobbying the government to introduce.

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“We want the Ministry of Finance to introduce tax on some things to help boost the National Health Fund. For instance, we want the Treasury to introduce a top-up contribution on Motor Vehicle Certificate of Fitness, introduce a tax on alcohol, introduce a tax on cigarettes and the tobacco industry.

“We also want part of gate collections at Chingeni Toll Plaza [in Ntcheu District] and Kalinyeke Toll Gate [in Dedza District] to be going to the health sector. Part of the fuel levy should go to the health sector, where it can be used for improving service delivery,” Jobe said.

Jobe said the introduction of such taxes would help Malawi address public health finance challenges.

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Treasury spokesperson Williams Banda said the ministry has been getting stakeholders’ inputs to the next national budget on a number of issues including health.

He said, when the Minister of Finance presents the budget statement to Parliament, Malawians would learn about initiatives the government is ready to implement.

“We are just soliciting views. After the exercise, the ministry will be scrutinising every suggestion and mapping the way forward.

“Then the public will know what the ministry has adopted to be viable for the country,” Banda said.

Late last year, politician-cum-comedian Bon Kalindo organised protests in the country’s four cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba, as well as Mangochi District, where people protested against the imposition of Value Added Tax on some consumer goods as well as high gate fees at Chingeni Toll Plaza.

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