(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
The Knesset plenum rejected on Wednesday its preliminary reading of a private member’s bill that would exempt prescription drugs from Value Added Tax. Last week, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted it down as well. Seventeen MKs voted in favor and 32 against.
The bill was proposed by Meretz MK Ilan Gilon, who argued that many people have to choose between food and drugs for chronic diseases. There are other products, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, that are also exempt from VAT, he said.
The taking of prescribed drugs, he continued, is directly linked to a longer life and higher quality of life.
There is no VAT on prescription drugs in many developed countries, and Finance Minister Yair Lapid has been trying for many months to get a VAT exemptions on new apartments for some young couples.
“There are things that I wouldn’t tax at all. Once and for all,” said Gilon, “one must stop this and eliminate this tax on drugs.” After his defeat, Gilon vowed to raise the bill again “like a Swiss clock every six months.”
Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy said he appreciated Gilon’s ability to renew the vote on the bill every six month, but the government “doesn’t intend to expand the list of products with a VAT exemption. If not, there will be a flood of requests from many sectors for the same thing on baby food, vehicle brake pads, tires, water, electricity and school books.”