Call to implement a health tax levy

Nadi private doctor Ahmed Shariff while making a submission at the National Budget consultation. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Health services is one of the reasons people are leaving for better opportunities abroad, says Nadi private doctor Ahmed Shariff.

While speaking at a National Budget consultation, the director of Health Masters Pte Ltd said a taxation system needed to be implemented for the health sector to improve and upgrade its services and facilities.

“This is a cycle that we need to fix because if we do not look after our population people will leave and that relates also to the issue of migration,” he said.

“Health is one of the most common reasons for migration.

“As our population ages because of the search for better care people are willing to leave for abroad.

“When we don’t have a productive community we are not going to get much money and that money is not going to be able to sustain the health sector and that cycle continues.” Dr Shariff proposed that a 1 per cent health levy be implemented for all taxpayers.

“I propose for us to have a 1 per cent health tax levy across the board regardless of the amount that you earn because that is your contribution towards the health sector.

“We are marching towards universal health care and universal healthcare is not achieved without taxation.

“Medicare in Australia has two per cent. “If we are really looking at our taxation system we really need to consider this.”

He added that the tax threshold on worker’s salaries needed to be reviewed. “Fiji is one of the only countries that provides not tax bracket for those earning up to $30,000.

“That is a large amount for our country with our GDP. In New Zealand and I stand corrected on this but you have to pay 14 cents for every $1 you earn.

“It starts from zero to $10,000, you pay about 14 per cent. In Australia there is also a similar system and that is a large amount for these countries as compared to Fiji.

“We have a large amount of people that are falling under that $30,000 bracket and if that is the case we are asking about 400,000 people to look after a 900,000 population and the rest is by the business sector.”

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