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Govt is getting ready to raise the tax on tobacco products

KATHMANDU: Minister for Health and Population Mohan Bahadur Basnet noted that while tobacco products are currently taxed at a very low percentage in Nepal, they are taxed at more than 70% in developed nations. He claimed that the tobacco tax revenue is also going to be used to fund medical services. On Wednesday, he provided this information while speaking with health journalists.

The tax on tobacco products, according to Minister Basnet, has the potential to significantly increase the budget for health services, with the goal of funding public hospitals like the Bir Hospital and the Cancer Hospital. The media representatives asserted, however, that the Tobacco Prevention Act required that the funds raised be used for cancer prevention and treatment initiatives.

In a similar vein, Minister Basnet stated that the economic downturn brought on by the conflict in Ukraine and the effects of COVID-19 will result in a reduction in Nepal’s health budget as well as the country’s overall budget.

He claims that compared to last year, the health budget will drop by 40% this year. He declared, “The budget cannot be changed at this time because it is already in the final stages.”.

Basnet expressed his commitment to implementing the program so that the public’s health is safeguarded while also soliciting advice from the media representatives on policies and programs for the health industry as a whole. During this, he pledged to take steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Ayurvedic treatments and services offered by government hospitals, the management of healthcare professionals, and the policies and programs for the poor’s medical care.

In addition, journalists recommended enacting stringent regulations to send medical professionals who received scholarships to train outside the Kathmandu Valley, as well as special policies and initiatives to make it simple and convenient for common people to access treatment. They also suggested adding test services for non-communicable illnesses like cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and other illnesses as well as public awareness campaigns and more medical staff in private hospitals.

Minister Basnet responded to queries and suggestions from the media by saying that health and education would be affordable for the general public and would see significant advancements. “There are people in the nation who are passing away on the roads because they cannot afford the $2,000 in medical care they need. They need health services, so I’m working to give them those,” he said.

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