Government proposes health fund boost

DODOMA: MINISTER for Finance Dr Mwigulu Nchemba has put forward a proposal suggesting the introduction of 10 per cent excise duty on betting, gaming and national lottery stakes, with the funds ring-fenced for the Universal Health Insurance Fund.

This move aims to bolster government revenue for financing Universal Health Coverage, ultimately enhancing healthcare accessibility for individuals unable to afford it.

Dr Nchemba presented this proposition during the National Budget presentation for 2024/2025 at the National Assembly in Dodoma.

Additionally, he recommended that two per cent of excise duty collections from carbonated soft drinks, cosmetics, and alcoholic beverages be allocated to the Universal Health Insurance Fund.

Emphasising the aim to increase government revenue for healthcare financing and improve health service accessibility for those in need, he reiterated the importance of addressing citizens’ expectations for enhanced social services like roads, water, health, education, and electricity.

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Dr Nchemba highlighted the government’s commitment to improving the lives of Tanzanians through endeavours to foster an industrial-based economy, create employment opportunities, and stimulate sustainable economic growth and social welfare.

Strategies outlined include strengthening energy and transport infrastructure, enhancing the business environment, investing in education and training, and integrating research and development into productive sectors.

“Despite the achievements attained in three-year leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, citizens still yearn to see improved social services such as roads, water, health, education, and electricity.” Dr Nchemba emphasised during his address.

The Minister further said the 2024/25 budget aspires to enable Tanzanians to have a better life through continued efforts to build industrial based economy in order to increase employment opportunities and stimulate the country’s economic growth and sustainable social welfare.

Health sector

Dr Nchemba proposed amendments to the Income Tax Act to include institutions advancing health services and environmental conservation under charitable institutions, aiming to relieve them of income tax obligations.

This measure seeks to encourage charitable services, particularly in health and environmental maintenance, to support global efforts against climate change.

He said the government continues with its efforts to ensure provision of quality healthcare to all levels across the country, including rehabilitation of existing infrastructure and construction of more than 1,324 new healthcare centres in which during the 2023/24, healthcare centres increased to 12,266 from 11,040 in 2022/23.

Water sector

He proposed amendments to exempt Value Added Tax on water treatment chemicals, water meters, and sewage, upon approval by the responsible Minister, to facilitate sustainable and clean water provision.

Dr Nchemba stressed that the amendments for the Financial Year 2024/25 aim to address societal needs and stimulate economic activities by focusing on strategic sectors such as industry, agriculture, tourism, and social sectors like education and health.

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Measures include introducing vocational education exemptions for casual laborers in water projects and meteorological service fees for water resource management activities.

Furthermore, the government plans to continue implementing alternative project financing strategies to fund development projects and reduce reliance on the government budget. Notable initiatives include the successful issuance of a Green Bond and providing training on alternative project financing methods.

He said the government will continue to implement the Alternative Project Financing Strategy to widen the scope of funding development projects and reduce dependence on the government budget.

Education sector
Dr Nchemba highlighted ongoing reforms, including curriculum changes and plans for tuition-free education and subsidies at all levels.

The government is committed to prioritizing and executing these reforms, ensuring timely disbursement of funds, and accelerating the implementation of programs like Boost Primary Student Learning Program (BOOST) and Tanzania Secondary Education Quality Improvement Project (SEQUIP) to improve student learning and access to quality education.

“These interventions are crucial to make sure that by 2027, every child complete ordinary level secondary education, and many would have access to quality vocational training.

“To support those endeavours, the education sector budget for the next fiscal year has increased. We will do whatever it takes to realise those monumental reforms, which will serve as a beacon not only for our nation but also other African countries.” He noted

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