Opposition MP and former Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony had the National Assembly in an uproar this morning when he rose in the House to declare the new 14% value added taxes for a number of items is a tax on safe-sex, as well as the deaf, the elderly, the disabled, and the sick.
“This year is quite a historic year,” Anthony told the House, “it is the year we celebrated our 50th anniversary as an independent nation, the year we had two APNU+AFC budgets, but the people will remember this as the year of taxes.”
Anthony said between the two budgets “there were close to two hundred different measures” aimed at raising taxes. “What a gift for the 50th anniversary from APNU+AFC to the people of this country,” Anthony joked.
Dr Anthony minced no words when he said the decision to add VAT to water and electricity bills “must be seen as oppressive.” He then went on to list out a number of medical services and supplies that would be taxed under the new VAT regime.
“When persons go to a private practitioner, consultations fee would probably go up by 14%,” Dr Anthony warned, “registered hospitals would now have to pay VAT on all services hospitals provide.”
Dr Anthony said maternity homes, nursing homes and convalescent homes would also be affected by the decision.
“I am totally at a loss to describe the level of callousness by this administration,” Dr Anthony continued noting that the World Health Organisation, as well as the Pan-American Health Organisation advocate for taxes to be removed on drugs and medical supplies.
“For years we have been complying,” Dr Anthony recalled, “we have moved from complying from what the WHO and PAHO wants and now we have reversed all of that, and we are taxing medical supplies and services.”
Dr Anthony called for the David Granger administration to be compassionate to the poor, sick, elderly and children of the country. “Did government study impacts of the measures? What would be the economic impact of 14% VAT on medical and health services,” Dr Anthony questioned.
He said HIV prevention programmes would suffer since there would now be a 14% on condoms and Anti-Retrovirals, as well as family planning initiatives which depend on contraceptives. “It will limit the treatment people can receive because many of them will not be able to afford the treatment.”
Also, the Opposition MP continued, “it will lead to unnecessary suffering. It means more people would be forced to use the public health service [which] will lead to longer waiting time, more drug shortages, and probably in the long-run it would cost the government more than this 14% VAT imposition.”
“There is no joy this Christmans when we look at the APNU style of the good life, the people will not be having a good life, Dr Anthony concluded.