Deputy Finance Minister Terence Mukupe was last week grilled in the Senate over the health levy introduced by the government last year.
Senator David Chimhini said he had it on good authority that only half the money raised through the levy on airtime was going to health so he wanted to know where the other half was going.
When Mukupe said that the money was being used for what it was promulgated for, Chimhini, supported by Senator Lillian Timveos, insisted it was not.
Q & A
HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: Thank your Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Minister, sometime last year, parliamentarians advocated for health levy from airtime which was approved by Government, but what we now hear is only 50% goes to health, what is happening with the other 50%, because it was specifically for health?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. MUKUPE): Thank you for your question Hon. Member. I am not aware of that being the case that only 50% is going elsewhere. As far as I am concerned, that money was subject to promulgation through the Finance Act and it is being used for the purpose that it was promulgated for. I thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIMHINI: We have it on good authority from the Ministry of Health, they came here for oral evidence and they have indicated that and I am surprised that the Ministry of Finance is not aware. They have indicated that is what is happening.
HON. MUKUPE: I think the Hon. Senator is confusing disbursement and the usage of funds, these are two different things. What I know is the situation that had been there with the health levy is that some of the things that the Ministry wanted to use the funds for were actually things that they were going to be importing, especially on the drugs and that will be dependent on the availability of foreign currency from the central bank. So, I cannot comment on what the Minister of Health was stating, but I am pointing out what we are carrying out as the Ministry of Finance; all disbursements that have to be carried out, they were very much available to carry out any disbursement. I thank you.
HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you Mr. President. As the Chairperson of the HIV and AIDS Committee, we actually had oral evidence from the Ministry of Health that they actually confirmed under oath to say that they only get 50% of this airtime levy. There is actually a Committee that does this. Surely the other 50% – as Treasury, you have to know where it is going, please enlighten us.
HON. MUKUPE: Thank you again, I will stick to my statement. As I have stated, we are passing on the funds for the purposes for which they are intended for so, that is my answer. I thank you.
Hon. Senators having stood up to ask supplementary questions on the same question.
THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: I was just suggesting that you can put the question in writing so that the Minister can bring more detail to it. For now I think we do not want to be stuck on the same issue.