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Taxes help mums and babies in Bolivia

Pregnant women and new mothers in Bolivia are attending more pre- and post-natal classes - with excellent results - thanks to improved social welfare programmes.

Why?

Greater spending on social welfare relies on extra revenue. This is true anywhere in the world. Often that extra money is raised – as in this case - through taxes.

Back in 2006, as little as 18% of the value of Bolivia’s oil and gas exports stayed in the country.

Our partners, CEDLA and Fundación Solón, were two organisations that led the calls for change.

They helped mobilise thousands of activists to campaign for foreign oil and gas companies to pay a fair rate of tax.

Campaigners in Bolvia march to change the constitution   
People from all over Bolivia called for a new constitution, making natural resources like oil and gas the property of the Bolivian people.

Christian Aid partners in Bolivia

CEDLA produced radio shows and leaflets in different indigenous languages, helping marginalised people to understand the tax system.

Fundación Solón ran mural competitions, many of which highlighted the importance of Bolivians having control over their own resources.

This public pressure led Evo Morales – the President – to bring the industry back under state control.

International oil and gas companies were forced to renegotiate their deals and today Bolivia keeps 50% of the value of all its oil and gas production.

This means there is more money to spend on people's welfare.

Healthy mums, healthy babies

Bolivian mother and child

Mums are now entitled to money if they attend pre- and post-natal appointments with their babies.

Among other things, this extra money from the oil and gas taxation has helped to fund a programme for mums-to-be and new mums.

It works by providing cash payments as an incentive for mothers to attend pre- and post-natal classes.

Since the programme began

  • chronic infant malnutrition has fallen by over 11%

  • more babies are born with the support of trained medical staff - up from 55% in 2009 to 76% in 2013.

Work still needs to be done to ensure that all Bolivian women – especially those in rural areas – know about and have access to this programme but this is a positive example of how tax revenues can work for the poorest people.

Taxes help 2.4 million Bolivians

Other welfare programmes funded by the taxes include:

- The Renta Dignidad - a universal state pension for everyone over 60

- The Juancito Pinto - a grant for primary school children to help them pay for school books and uniforms

- Nationwide school breakfasts for primary school children

Along with the cash payments for mums, the programmes help to support 2.4 million of Bolivia’s poorest and most vulnerable people.