THE Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) has expressed disappointment with President Edgar Lungu’s signing into law the National Health Insurance Act despite its rejection by the stakeholders.
ZFE executive director Harrington Chibanda The Mast yesterday that the government had “selfishly” decided not to listen to stakeholders that rejected the bill on grounds that it was not favouring the poor Zambians.
President Lungu has signed into law the National Health Bill, which faced massive resistance and rejection by workers’ bodies and employers owing to lack of consensus.
The ZFE and Zambia Congress of Trade Unions had opposed the presentation of the National Health Bill to parliament without meaningful consultations with key stakeholders.
But the government proceeded to present the Bill which passed in parliament and has now been signed into law by President Lungu.
“For now, we would simply say we are disappointed. We are disappointed in the sense that we are a stakeholder, not only a stakeholder but very important stakeholder in the success of the national health scheme. We raised concerns but government has decided not to listen to us. We feel very much disappointed even when we requested to meet the head of state in order to put our views to him, we would not be given that opportunity and all we see is that the bill has been enacted. And we wonder whether government considers us as a key stakeholder in the national development or not,” Chibanda said.
He said with enactment of the national health insurance scheme, in additional to other existing taxes, it would be very difficult for the employers to expand horizons to create jobs in the country.
“We are all mindful of the importance of providing good health services in the country. The issue that concerns us is how many costs the government wants to create for its stakeholders like the employers and the workers. It appears to us that government does not care how much it costs for a private sector to run business in Zambia. It is not mindful that a sustainable enterprise requires that there are aspects of profitability that should actually be used in terms of businesses which would help us in the areas of creation of jobs. Government only thinks that employers are only selfish because of the profit motives and not necessarily that it is only when business are making profits, that is when employers can expand their horizons and be able to create the much need jobs for the Zambian people. I think that is where we are missing the point,” said Chibanda.
“We were ready to propose other financing mechanisms to have a social national insurance scheme but look at other factors in the industry! Of course creating additional…but it seems like government has just decided to move the way they feel like. We are actually disappointed. For the next course of action, we need to consult our membership. We need also to read the bill and understand it before we decide on anything but for now, we are greatly disappointed.”
The National Health Insurance Act will now create the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) that will have the legal mandate to collect money from all workers and employers through the payroll and from every Zambian aged 18 years and above, including prisoners.
The money to be collected would be used by the government to provide medical services to Zambians through government health institutions.