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Govt rolls out tax relief, allowances for health workers

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu says work is ongoing on the modalities for tax relief and allowances announced for frontline health workers in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to the Minister, though the payment of allowances has begun, not all health workers are immediately entitled to the package as primary attention would be given to workers in direct contact with the pandemic.

For instance, he said more than 3,000 nurses and midwives were currently on study leave and not exposed to any risk while there are other categories of health personnel yet to be brought aboard to help in the situation.

“All of us are health workers but not all of us will do some work that will make us take advantage of the large bonus. The President is not thinking of leaving anyone behind but a number of us have not been deployed yet so they are staying home.

“We have some nurses we have deployed; some are at Korle-Bu, the Ga East Hospital and others, these are the people the President is thinking about for now. All of us will get the tax exemption but honestly, if you compare those standing by waiting to be deployed and those in direct contact, you can make a conclusion.”

The Minister who was speaking at a media briefing on COVID-19 in Accra yesterday, called for restraint on the part of health workers as government works on the modalities to cushion them.

Mr Agyeman-Manu clarified that front line health personnel in the private sector also stand a chance to benefit from the package that they would be required to provide their tax identification numbers (TIN) for the exemption to be effected.

To increase the provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs), he said the Ministry of Trade and Industry had contracted five local companies to produce 3.6 million face masks which would be delivered in batches beginning today.

“We expect to take delivery of about 10,000 masks everyday so very soon we will have more than enough of these materials to protect us.”

On the transportation of health personnel in the Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi areas to and from work, Mr Agyeman-Manu said the 15 “Aayalolo” buses designated for the task had been labelled and factors in the shift systems of health workers so personnel should look out for them.

He asked beneficiaries to cooperate with drivers to effectively practise the social distancing etiquettes on the buses and prevent “yourselves from contracting the disease.”

President Akufo-Addo in a television address on Sunday announced that effective April 2020, all frontline health workers in the pandemic fight, would among other things, receive an additional allowance of 50 per cent of their basic salary per month for the next three months as well as a three-month tax holiday.

“An insurance package, with an assured sum of GH¢350,000 for each health personnel and allied professional at the forefront of the fight, has been put in place, with a daily allowance of GH¢150 being paid to contact tracers. 

“Government has also decided that all health workers will not pay taxes on their emoluments for the next three months, i.e. April, May and June. Furthermore, all frontline health workers will receive an additional allowance of 50 per cent of their basic salary per month, i.e. for March, April, May and June. The March allowance will be paid alongside that of April,” he said.

Although the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) and the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) have commended the government over this, they are demanding that the package should covers all doctors, nurses and midwives across the country because they were all at risk.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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