Health personnel in the country have been granted a 288.6 million Ghana cedis tax waiver to motivate them in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relief which was granted by Parliament is on personal emoluments of all health care professionals for April, May, and June 2020, as well as on additional allowances for front line health personnel covering the same period.
In a televised address to the nation on April 5, 2020, President Akufo-Addo announced the tax reliefs for April, May, and June, an insurance package of GHS350,000 for each health personnel and allied professional at the forefront of the fight, as well as an additional allowance of 50 per cent of their basic salary per month for March, April, May, and June to boost the fight against the pandemic.
The tax waiver on personal emoluments is estimated to cost the country some 237.5 million Ghana cedis with the tax waiver on additional allowances amounting to 51 million Ghana cedis.
A report of parliament’s Finance Committee on the waivers said the house expects the waiver to encourage health workers and other frontline personnel to continue to make sacrifices in caring for those infected with the virus.
The committee’s report also noted that the Health Ministry has received the list of private health care workers across the country for vetting and inclusion in the tax waiver scheme.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, who presented the committee’s report to the House for consideration and adoption explained that the proposed tax reliefs for the health workers were premised on the fact that the risk of COVID-19 infection to doctors, nurses and others on the frontlines has become very evident across the globe: Italy, UK, Spain, USA and other countries with some of these health workers contracting the coronavirus with many reported dead.
“Health workers also face considerable mental stress. It is often forgotten that as humans, they feel the sorrow of loss when their patients succumb to the virus. They too have families, and will naturally be fearful that the virus might reach those they love most. These factors, together with the added pressure of work, place a lot of strain on health workers who overcome their fears to put themselves on the line daily to treat the sick and to combat the pandemic,” the New Juaben South MP noted.
He told the House that the tax incentives are expected to encourage healthcare workers and other frontline personnel to continue to make sacrifices in caring for those infected with the virus, and in caring for the sick in general.
Contributing to the report, Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, Cassiel Ato Forson, expressed dismay over the changes in the amount originally quoted as tax reliefs for the health workers.
According to him, at a point, the Minister of Finance quoted an amount of GH₵241million and therefore does not understand why the said amount has suddenly shot up to GH₵288.6million.
However, his fears were allayed by the Chairman of the Health Committee and MP for Berekum East, Dr. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah. He told the House that the sudden increase in the amount had to do with additional allowances covering one month that will be paid to the frontline health workers.