The Zero Deficit Budget that Government of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika introduced contained a lot of unpopular taxes. Among them is the introduction of Financial Services Tax which Malawians got angry with. However, the tax was still implemented and Government has been collecting the money for its general use.
The new President, Her Excellency Joyce Banda's administration will be presenting its first budget in the coming weeks. Many Malawians expect her to remove the many taxes the Zero Deficit Budget brought and return to normal budgeting process with donor input.
But today, this blog and other equally minded players in the Health Sector are requesting Her Excellency the President of the Republic of Malawi Mrs. Joyce Banda, the Minister of Health and Vice President of the Republic of Malawi Right Honourable Khumbo Kachali, the Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga M.P to keep the financial services taxes intact.
As unpopular as such a suggestion might be, Banks and Financial Services have been posting huge profits despite the challenges the Malawi has faced. It is time to tax these institutions, not for the sake of it, but for the sake of a broader public good and investing in the larger community.
The Financial Services tax should be collected and be deposited into a special Government account to be used for the following suggested things;
1. Improving Maternal Health.
2. Improving Child Health.
3. Training of Healthcare Workers.
4. Safety net for the most poor- including investing in Alternative Environmental Friendly initiatives for the poor, Youth and Women empowerment.
Madam President, the newly created Presidential Initiative on Safe Motherhood has a critical funding gap just as other interventions such as Child Health and Human Resources for Health. Training of Nurses and Midwives has at times been postponed due to lack of funds after the end of the Donor supported Emergency Training Programme.
Many mothers continue to deliver in many places without a skilled Healthcare personnel, while the ratio of Nurse to Patient is around 1:50. In fact Malawi's maternal and child deaths are near like Sierra Leone and Somalia who have undergone devastating wars.
We can invest, all of us collectively as Malawians by adopting this tax and supporting Maternal Health.
Oxfam has been championing the same idea for the noble cause. Malawi could be a model of this campaign dubbed the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, by maintaining the taxes on the Financial Sector and using it for a specific and measurable goal.
I hope all Malawians will join in support of this noble cause and save the mothers and children that die at delivery or birth.
Together we can make baby arrivals a happy occasion by reducing maternal and child mortality.
Kondwani Munthali is the winner of MISA Malawi Blogger of the Year Award.
Join the Robin Hood Tax Campaign in Malawi: Email: [email protected], Phone : +265 111 209 402.