GH¢80m put aside to pay 50% allowance for health workers

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…as definition of ‘frontline health workers’ still hangs

As part of the COVID-19 Alleviation Plan (CAP), government has set aside some GH¢80million to cater for the payment of 50% allowance on the basic salaries of frontline healthcare workers, Deputy Minister of Finance Charles Adu Boahen has disclosed.

Answering questions on behalf of the Finance Minister on the floor of Parliament, the deputy minister noted that the delay in payment of the said monies – which the president first announced in March – is due to the Health Ministry’s inability to submit data that clearly identifies frontline health workers, as defined by the ministry; indicating that it has been a challenge defining who a frontline health worker is.

“In March 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced incentive packages for the health sector as part of COVID-19 pandemic preparedness, readiness and response actions, including the special allowance of 50% on their basic salaries to designated workers. I want to reassure the House that adequate provision has been made for this incentive package within the COVID-19 Alleviation Plan. In fact, we have put aside an amount of approximately GH¢80million for this package.

“However, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance are together compiling the data and doing the necessary reconciliation specially to determine the particular healthcare workers who are eligible or are designated as frontline workers, and hence eligible for this package. This exercise is still ongoing, and as soon as it is completed the payment will start,” Mr. Adu Boahen said.

The president, in his 13th address to the nation on the pandemic last Sunday, extended incentive packages for health workers from three months to six months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The packages, the president noted, are meant to commend health workers for their hard work during the pandemic, and to also encourage them to do more in that regard.

“In recognition of their efforts, I announced during my 5th address to the nation on Sunday 5th April 2020 an incentive package to motivate and express appreciation to all health workers for the months of April, May and June. I am happy to announce that I have decided to extend the incentive package for all health workers by another three months.

“This means that all health workers will pay no income taxes for the next three months – i.e., July, August and September. Again, all frontline health workers, as defined by the Ministry of Health, will continue to receive the additional allowance of 50% on their basic salaries per month – i.e., for July, August and September, the president said.

MP for Ho Central, Benjamin Kpodo who asked the question on the floor, told the media in an interview that the Deputy Minister’s submission about the delay in payment of the money is unsatisfactory, questioning how for about a month frontline health workers cannot be identified.

“This money is available from the Ghana Stabilisation Fund which they have already drawn down, and it cannot be that since April we cannot identify frontline healthcare workers – some of whom as a result of their frontline position in assisting to treat Covid-19 patients have themselves contracted the virus,” he said.

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