Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on Wednesday said Zimbabweans are overtaxed and shot down a proposal by some legislators for the government to introduce a levy to mobilise resources in the fight against cancer.
As the world celebrated World Cancer Day on Wednesday, local legislators sought to push government to take drastic measures in the fight against the disease by mobilising additional resources to capacitate local health institutions.
The legislators argued that the levy would take the form of the Aids levy which the government compulsorily introduced for all formal sector employees in the ’90s to mobilise funds in the fight against the pandemic.
But Chinamasa told legislators during Parliament’s question-and-answer session that he would not support introduction of such a measure.
“The tax payer is already overburdened and I will be very reluctant to impose such measures,” Chinamasa told legislators.
He said what was critical was for the government to grow the economy, which would make mobilisation of resources easy to support all needy sectors of the economy, including health.
Zimbabwe’s anaemic economy is stifled by lack of new investment and cash shortages which are choking its productive sectors.
Rated as one of the top killer diseases, cancer treatment is unaffordable for ordinary Zimbabweans as it is charged at a premium.
Meanwhile, Chinamasa said payment of bonuses for civil servants had overburdened the already financially stressed government, resulting in authorities failing to pay other critical services providers.
“We paid $172 million towards bonuses at a time when the private sector is failing to pay wages, let alone bonuses,” he said.
As a result the government, he said, had failed to remit payments to the Premier Medical Aid Society, among other service providers.