MMA, Fomca Back Using Sin Tax For Health

By CodeBlue | 20 June 2019

Galen suggests earmarking 5% of tobacco and alcohol taxes, or about RM300 million a year, for NCDs.

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Two doctors’ and consumers’ groups have supported the Galen Centre’s proposal to divert revenue from sin taxes to health care.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, chief executive of health think tank Galen Centre, told a forum organised by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) that he has previously suggested earmarking 5 per cent of tobacco and alcohol taxes, totalling about RM6 billion annually, to treat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cancer and diabetes. This would amount to about RM300 million a year.

He also suggested using any tax revenue on vaping devices and e-cigarettes, if these products are to be taxed, to fund health.

“We fully support the sin tax on alcohol and tobacco to be used for health care purposes,” MMA president Dr Mohamed Namazie Ibrahim told the forum last Saturday titled “Malaysian health care — What needs to be done?”.

“This is what is causing a lot of health care issues like cancer, pulmonary diseases etc, from smoking, plus liver diseases from alcohol,” he added.

The Philippines uses 85 per cent of revenue from taxes on tobacco and alcohol to fund health care.

Paul Selva Raj, secretary-general of the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca), similarly supported diverting sin tax revenue to an underfunded health budget.

“One of my criticisms with the sin tax — we’re talking about tax, we’re not talking about increasing tax. Just because you place tax doesn’t mean people will eat less sugar. But at least, let it benefit by going back into the system,” Paul told the MMA forum.

According to the Galen Centre, treating cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases combined cost RM11 billion annually in public and private funds.

Allocations for a Health Ministry programme to prevent and control NCDs and communicable diseases dropped to RM30 million last year from RM80 million in 2017, said the think tank.

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