Budget 2017 Debate; Dr. Anthony says 14% VAT to have safe sex; Going private means you have money- Minister Patterson

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Opposition Member of Parliament, Dr. Frank Anthony and Government Minister, Valerie Patterson on Tuesday clashed on the proposed removal of private health services from the list of zero-rated items.

Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Frank Anthony has described the 2017 National Budget as “visionless, ruthless and careless” pointing to the hefty taxes that have been introduced when he stood to give his presentation on the 2017 National Budget.

Dr. Anthony criticised the 14% VAT on medicines and health services, which he noted would have a negative impact on the citizens who now have to pay more for simple services. He added that this will also cause the increase in consultation fees and prescription drugs.

“What is worst, prescription drugs would now attract 14% VAT…If you get diarrhea Mr. Speaker and you have to get Imodium, 14% more VAT on it (echoed by Opposition MPs), if you got high blood pressure and need Atenenol, 14% more VAT on it (echoed by Opposition MPs), if you want to do a pregnancy test, 14% more VAT on it (echoed by Opposition MPs), if you want to have safe sex, 14% VAT on the condom…” the Former Minister told the house.

It must be noted that condoms attracted VAT prior to this year, unless it is provided by the Ministry of Health.

These measures according to Anthony would only lead to unnecessary suffering and urged the government to reconsider the proposals.

Meantime, Government Minister, Valerie Patterson defended Government’s decision to tax medicines, reminding that there is a public hospital that offers all medical services and provides medicines free of cost.

“There is a public hospital that is free, that offers all the services to the poor people of this country. And Mr. Speaker, if anybody wishing to go to private, it means they have money and if you want to have cosmetic $2M at the dentist, then you must pay 14% VAT” Patterson said.

However, earlier Dr. Anthony told the house that many of the services are not always available in the public health system.

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