Imran Khan approves ‘Health tax’ on cigars and beverages
- PM Imran Khan confirms the health tax on cigarettes, sugary and carbonated soft drinks, says SAPM for National Health Services Zafarullah.
- This, on one hand, will improve the health budget and on the other hand discourage the use of unhealthy products.
- Amount generated through health tax will be utilized in Health Insurance Scheme and in the eradication of lethal diseases; Kamran Khan.
- Imran Khan gave approval to the recommendations of the Health Task Force.
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Zafarullah Mirza says that Khan has always prioritized the provision of basic facilities to the people which includes the facilities of health, education, clean drinking water. This decision by the cabinet is the sentiment of Khan’s vision. The tax will be imposed on fizzy, soft drinks, cigarettes, he added.
“I cannot share the details for the said imposition of health tax right now. This amount will not only raise the revenue but also increase the amount allocated for the healthcare expenditures. Health tax will assist the government to ameliorate the poor health conditions of the poor people”, he further said. Zafarullah Khan didn’t name as sin tax.
What is the sin tax?
A sin tax is an internationally recognized term and is specifically used for the tax which is levied on products deemed as harmful to public health. These products include tobacco, candies, caffeine products and sugary soft drinks. Currently, the tax on tobacco and sugary beverages is being charged in some 45 countries of the world.
Current Health Budget allocations
At present, Pakistan spends a mere amount of 0.6 per cent of the budgetary allocations on health compared with the 1.1 trillion allocated for the defence sector. Pakistan ranks at 122 in the list of 190 countries in accordance with the report of the World Health Organization. The newly approved health tax will also compensate for the monetary deficiencies in the health budget of Pakistan.
Health tax in the other countries of the world
A tax is imposed on the pan and gutka in neighbouring India. Such taxes on unhealthy products are levied in America, Britain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and in several other countries of the world. However, they are named either as health tax or sin tax. The amount of taxes on unhealthy eatables is used to spend on healthcare services.
Impact of these taxes
According to the World Health Organization, cigarette consumption and the use of unhealthy drinks give rise to the diseases of heart, respiration, kidney and other diseases related to obesity. These products alongside increasing the burden on the national budget also affect the health of masses so there is a dire need to impose a tax to discourage their use.
Comparison of the prices of Cigarettes in Pakistan and in other countries
In Pakistan, a pack of 20 cigars is being sold for Rs. 160 while the price of the same packet in the western countries ranges from $15 to $20. This shows that the Pakistani market is fully attracted to the purchase of unhealthy products.
Reduced prices of 78 medicines
In reply to a question regarding the reduced prices of 78 medicines, Special Assistant to PM went on to say that it is a complex matter. The prices of 78 medicines were reduced and these medicines mostly comprise the daily used medicines. The prices of only those medicines were dropped for which the price hike was seen more than 75 per cent of the original price. He further explained the coming healthcare policy saying that it is only a short term measurement and plans for the significant control in the prices of medicines.
Agreements are in place with the pharmaceutical companies to control the illegal increase in the prices of medicines by publishing the prices of medicines in newspapers. This would make the public to understand the exact prices of the medicines.
While commenting on the HIV outbreak in Larkana, he says that the international team has been called upon to investigate the possible causes of the increased number of HIV cases, especially among the children. More than 500 children are tested as HIV positive out of 700 in the traditional political hub of Pakistan People’s Party.
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