THE government is planning to introduce a raft of new taxes targeting every Zimbabwean whether formally employed, self-employed or not employed, in a bid to fund the proposed compulsory health insurance scheme.
Under the proposals, every Zimbabwean, regardless of age, would be taxed for consuming anything or even using their mobile phones.
For example, the more one tops up airtime, the more they contribute to the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI).
Health and Child Care deputy minister Paul Chimedza said the tax proposals, if adopted, would “revolutionalise the way we finance our healthcare in the country for the betterment of all Zimbabweans”.
The NHI will result in the scrapping of the compulsory Aids levy introduced in 1999 to fund Aids mitigation programmes. NHI is envisaged to cushion Zimbabweans who cannot afford high medical aid fees charged by medical aid societies.
“Regarding this health insurance fund, everybody will be included, regardless of where they are or who they are. The new taxes we are talking about will include everybody in the country and what we know is that whenever somebody tops airtime in their phone, we will deduct that money,” Chimedza said.
“When they buy from supermarkets, money collected from the VAT, will be taken to the health fund. So we are saying every individual will be given a chance to make their contribution according to their abilities so that everyone in the country is covered by this health fund.
“We have looked at different taxing models, for example, people who smoke and drink will definitely end up in a healthcare institution. We are going to propose that we tax those habits.
They can enjoy themselves while we wait for them. We will tax a bit from the alcohol and tobacco and put in a kit.
“We are going to propose that we get a levy from tollgates because a lot of resources are going into looking after accident victims. Therefore, the people who use the roads, will be taxed. We will look at many ways of taxing,” he said.
Chimedza was responding to a question in the Senate on Thursday from Zanu PF senator for Mashonaland West Prisca Mupfumira on when the scheme that has been in the pipeline according to the Hansard would be launched.
We know that at the moment not everyone is employed, but people go into a supermarket to buy sugar and bread. So their point of payment will be VAT. If we want everyone to contribute to an NHI fund, we can probably propose that we increase from 15% to 16% and that the 1% go into the kit for NHI so that it is a sustainable fund where everyone contributes,” he said.
“We have a penetration right now of 109% in the country. Everyone has a cellphone. If we want tax money to go into the health insurance fund, when someone tops up airtime in their cell phone, we would consider whether we should take one cent so that those who make more calls contribute more than those who make fewer calls, but it will be based on ability.” Chimedza, however, said the proposed taxes are still at “very early discussion stages”.