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A bitter pill for ordinary citizens

Jan 16,2018 - Last updated at Jan 16,2018

The Patient Protection Coalition (PPC) representing a number of NGOs organised for the promotion and protection of health in the country at affordable costs is sounding the alarm about subjecting medicines including vitamins to higher sales taxes for fear that this additional tax burden on the public would keep medicine out of reach for the needy among the middle and lower classes of people. 

The PPC is questioning the rationale behind subjecting medicines including vitamins to higher taxes at a time when these health related products are not luxury items but vital for the exercise and enjoyment of the right to health which is made basic human right by international norms. 

Various international covenants including the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights view access to health and medicines at affordable prices a basic and indispensable human right. 

The coalition has therefore sent a memo to the prime minister calling for reversing the policy of imposing additional taxes on health related items and products. 

The PPC has also noted that even medical insurance policies, when available whether private or public, do not always cover all medicines and vitamins and patients, especially the low income segments among them, are left on their own to bear the extra cost of their medicines and vitamins. 

It is one thing to impose higher sales taxes on luxury goods but to impose them on basic necessities of life is contrary to common sense and justice. The right to health includes access to not only medical treatments but also to medications that are essential part of medical treatment. 

True, the government needs to raise revenues in order to keep the wheels of the state turning but this should not be at the expense of basic necessities of life. 

Rationalising state expenditures has yet to materialise across the board. There are ways and ways to make ends meet for the government without compromising the legitimate needs of most of the people.

The two chambers of Parliament have just adopted the national budget for the new year at a speed unknown before. MPs may have glossed over certain budgetary allocations in haste with no or little regard to the low income citizens as His Majesty King Abdullah has demanded when he addressed the Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament and chairmen of the House's committees last week. 

 

It is never too late to redress omissions made by Parliament in this regard and now is the time to do so. 

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Comments

IF YOU COMBINE LACK OF NUTRITIOUS FOOD DUE TO ECONOMIC REASONS WITH HIGH TAXATION OF VITAMINS AND OTHER HEALTH CARE PRODUCTS, YOU WILL CREATE AN ECONOMIC SUICIDE BELT READY TO GO OFF AT ANY MOMENT. LET US BE A BIT CAREFUL WHEN TRYING TO BALANCE THE EQUATION AT THE BACK OF THE POOR.

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