December 17, 2012
Writing in DevelopmentEducation.ie, Jamie Hitchen of the Human Rights Centre Uganda explores a proposal in Uganda to create "a fund specifically designated to assist projects for HIV and AIDS prevention and protection" that would "generate cash through levies on bank transactions and interest, air tickets, beer, soft drinks and cigarettes, as well as taxes on goods and services traded within Uganda." He notes, "The revenue generated is expected to be spent on condom distribution, reducing cases of sexually transmitted infections and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission." However, "reactions from ordinary Ugandans have not been particularly favorable," he writes, adding, "It's not been so much about the idea of a HIV and AIDS tax being proposed that is drawing dissent, but it is more revealing of the absence of faith held in the government not to pocket the funds."
He reviews a case of corruption within the government, looks at other countries' programs involving HIV/AIDS levies, and writes, "The idea of levying a small tax on everyday goods such as petrol and phone tariffs is an innovative, bold solution and one that, at least in theory, has merits for ensuring sustainable funding that isn't dependent on international support." Hitchen continues, "Ugandan skepticism-at-large about the transparency of parliament and the air of resignation about official corruption held by the public and by government officials are at the core of why meaningful debates about a HIV and AIDS health tax are being held back," and he concludes, "HIV and AIDS affects a huge percentage of the population, directly and indirectly, and their views cannot, and should not be ignored" (12/12).