THE prevailing COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected AIDS Levy collections at the back of job losses and diminishing incomes during the period from March 2020 to date, making it difficult to fund HIV and AIDS interventions locally.
By Michael Gwarisa
The AIDS Levy is derived from 3% of income tax paid by individuals and cooperates and in Zimbabwe, HIV interventions are currently funded 70% by donors (multilateral or bilateral) and 11% by public resources and the reminder by Private players. According to ZNASP (2015-2020), the HIV funding Gap for 2020 programming was estimated as 44% of the demand for the services.
National AIDS Council (NAC) Zimbabwe National Accountant, Mr Godfrey Muzari said the COVID-19 had not spared AIDS Levy Collections and even though they collected over ZW$1 Billion from the ZW$885 Million they had targeted for 2020, it wasn’t much when converted to United States dollars.
The National AIDS Council was hit harder as the Council’s main source of revenue is AIDS levy collections derived from the tax base. Our AIDS levy is valued in Zimbabwean dollar terms. In terms of budget, we budgeted for ZW$885 Million and our collections lead to ZW$1.9 Billion. In Zimbabwean dollar terms, it seems maybe from the figures, we exceeded the target but from the finance point of view, its not the correct picture because its the Zim dollar.
“The Zim dollar was affected and is still affected by inflation. If you convert these figures from my analysis in terms of reaching the target, we did not manage to reach it if you changed the figures to the real money. These are just inflationary figures,” said Mr Muzari.
Mr Muzari added that the effects of COVID-19 were more disastrous in Zimbabwe as the Country was already in an economic crisis.
Around 2014 and 2016, the National AIDS Council was collecting above US$38 Million in AIDS Levy collections. However, the reintroduction of the local currency and inflationary environment has impacted on the organization’s capacity to procure life saving Antiretroviral drugs from foreign sources as well as fund the National Aids Response.
National AIDS Council communications director, Ms Madeline Dube said previously, they would make foreign purchases for medicines without going through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
“Remember our monies before we got into this new monetary policy, we were collecting around US$38 Million and we were buying medicines directly without having to go through the reserve bank. We would place our order and make payments without any hustle.
“Now that this is the Zimbabwean dollar, we cannot tell India that we have our money and we want medicines. What it means is we have to go to the RBZ or look at the best option that we have and buy these medicines,” sad Ms Dube.