No to more taxes

We have every reason to worry about the announcement by Deputy Health and Child Care minister, Paul Chimedza, in Parliament last week that government is considering introducing a raft of new taxes to boost the National Health Insurance (NHI).

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

Chimedza indicated that all those in formal and informal employment, as well as the unemployed, would in one way or another make contributions to NHI, an initiative meant to help improve health service delivery.

For the record, we are not opposed to the capitalisation of NHI. The initiative is noble and is the ideal for any citizen, especially people like us – who for more than a decade have failed to access adequate health services. However, we don’t believe taxing an impoverished population is advisable or possible.

Zimbabweans are considered among the most heavily taxed people in Africa. We are forced to pay stratospheric duty at the border when we import items as well as in shops and other trading points. Add to that the fact that our banks are making enormous profits on the outrageous handling fees they charge depositors. Furthermore, goods in Zimbabwe, following dollarisation, are considered to be very expensive when you compare with other economies in the region and beyond.

The most tragic reality around introducing more taxes is that people in this country are already suffering an acute liquidity crunch. The majority of them are out of work and labouring to squeeze out whatever little money they can get from an overcrowded informal sector. A good number are surviving below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), let alone the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Millions are dependent on what their relatives in the diaspora send home.

What sense is there in taxing villagers for using cell phones – as the new taxation system plans? Where will the villagers going to get the money from – when it is a known fact that they sometimes go for weeks without a cent in their pocket? And, even more to the point, what is it going to cost in administration and logistics to try and collect that money? And what avenues for corruption and mismanagement are going to be opened up by this? Just look at the road tolls if you need an example!

In pursuit of improving health delivery, government will end up with a bigger health burden as more people fall sick due to stress and other problems associated with poverty. We urge the government to rethink its proposed NHI taxes. We understand they need money – don’t we all? This is not the way to go about it.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
  1. Donette Read Kruger

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