Govt prepares to increase tax on tobacco products

Published On: May 12, 2023 12:45 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 12: The Ministry of Health and Population has prepared to increase the tax on tobacco products.

Health and Population Minister Mohan Bahadur Basnet said that while developed countries tax more than 70 percent on tobacco products, Nepal is currently taxing at a very low percentage. He said that the money collected from tobacco tax is also intended to be invested in health services. He gave this information during a discussion with health journalists on Wednesday.

Minister Basnet revealed that the tax imposed on tobacco products can significantly increase the budget for health services and the aim is to invest in government hospitals including the Cancer Hospital and Bir Hospital. However, the media persons suggested that according to the Tobacco Prevention Act, the funds collected should be spent on cancer treatment and prevention programs.

Similarly, Minister Basnet said that the health budget will decrease along with the overall budget of Nepal due to the economic recession caused by the Ukraine war and the impact of COVID-19.

According to him, the health budget will decrease by 40 percent this year compared to last year. "The budget is already in the final stage, it cannot be corrected now," he said.

During the discussion, Basnet also asked the media persons for suggestions for policies and programs in the health sector as a whole, and expressed his commitment to implement the program so that the health of the people as a whole is protected. During this, he promised to take initiatives to make Ayurvedic treatment and services provided by government hospitals more efficient and effective, manage health care workers, and improve policies and programs for the health treatment of the poor.

Likewise, journalists suggested bringing strict rules to send doctors who have studied on scholarships to health facilities outside the Kathmandu Valley, and bringing special policies and programs to make access to treatment easy and convenient for common citizens. They also suggested bringing test services for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart, kidney and other diseases and bringing public awareness programs and increasing health manpower in private hospitals.

Addressing the questions and suggestions of media persons, Minister Basnet said that health and education will be within the reach of the people and that they will make extensive improvements. "There are citizens in the country who are dying on the road without getting Rs 2000 for treatment. I am working to provide health services for them," he said.


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