‘Tobacco levy can generate billions of funds to help govt deal with pandemic’

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By Hamid Khan Wazir

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Health Activists have stressed the need for the imposition of a long-delayed and much-needed Health levy bill, which was passed last year but is yet to be implemented.

Health levy would have generated additional Rs 40 billion that can be used in this pandemic situation.

During a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, the Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) reminded the government about the necessity of Health Levy in this pandemic.

 

The Program Manager SPARC Khalil Ahmed said Pakistan’s budget has restricted the percentage allocated for the health sector. The Health levy was proposed to increase the prices of tobacco to keep them out of reach of children and generate additional revenue. Extra 40 billion can be generated by implementing the Health levy on cigarettes which could be used for healthcare infrastructure.

Khalil Ahmed further added that revenue generated from the health levy could have been utilized in procuring and distributing vaccines against the COVID-19, to accelerate the normalization of public life.

The SPARC’s Program Manager said that during COVID-19, the Health Levy has become necessary as the pandemic has caused additional health spending that far exceeded the annual budget for health. The government announced vaccinations for senior citizens whereas, maximum people should be vaccinated, and the hurdle remains the same, inadequate financial resources.

The Secretary-General Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) Chaudhry Sana Ullah Ghuman said responsible countries are already working on providing immunity against COVID-19, why is our government not taking this responsibility while having an imposition of health levy as a key.

The Secretary-General PANAH further added that the COVID-19 widespread has made everyone realize once again that our existing resources are lacking to Counter any sound crisis. Due to the postponement in the implementation of the health levy, the national exchequer endured a misfortunate of Rs 40 billion. This amount can be utilized for widespread control and ensure superior wellbeing and living standards for our citizens.

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