In 2014, millions of poor Filipinos will be able to get free healthcare for the first time.
For families struggling to cope in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, this could prove vital.
Marilyn Monton (28) with her son, Renel Junior, born just a few weeks after Typhoon Haiyan. Money raised from the new tax will provide new birthing units in rural health centres.
Just like public services in the UK, the money to fund this new provision comes from tax. In particular, a new tax that was introduced last year after a long national campaign.
In 2012, we and our local partner organisations in the Philippines helped to draft a new law. It raises the tax on alcohol and cigarettes in order to fund health services.
Despite opposition from the powerful tobacco lobby, the law was passed and came into effect on New Year’s Day 2013.
The new tax has already raised more than $820 million of extra income for healthcare.
This increase is having an enormous impact on millions of lives, bringing life-saving and life-changing benefits to poor families across the Philippines.
This is a great example of governments using taxes to discourage behaviours that are harmful or that damage the economy, and then investing the taxes in essential, life-saving services.
• Over four years, the tax will bring in an additional $4bn
• $3.3bn set aside for healthcare, with the remainder being used to help tobacco farmers develop alternative livelihoods
What does this mean?
The increase in investment will provide
• free healthcare for 14.7 million poor families
• birthing units in 70% of rural health centres by the end of 2014
• operating rooms for all district hospitals
Tax transforms lives
These new health services are funded by taxes paid by ordinary Filipinos.
The difference to people’s lives is enormous, but the amounts of money raised are a drop in the ocean compared to the money lost to corporate tax dodging.
Christian Aid estimates poor countries are missing out on $160bn a year because of tax dodging by multinational firms.
This is much more than they receive in aid.
Tax gives mothers like Marilyn the support they need and can save lives. Imagine what a difference an extra $160bn could make in the fight against poverty.
Join our campaign for tax justice.