Parliament approves GHS174M tax waiver for frontline health workers

Parliament of Ghana has approved an amount of GHS174 million cedis as tax waiver on income taxes for front line health workers.

The waiver covers personal emoluments for the months of July, August and September 2020 respectively.

The approval is in line with President Akufo-Addo’s promise to give health workers additional allowances on their basic salary due to their crucial role in the fight against COVID-19.

The tax incentive was designed by government as token compensation to encourage healthcare workers, especially front line health personnel to continue to make sacrifices in caring for those infected with COVID-19.

According to the Finance Committee report, the number of health workers who fall into the category of frontline health workers for the months of April, May and June 2020 were 6,091, 7,418, and 7,196 respectively with corresponding expenditure on the additional allowances being GHS6.5 million, GHS7.5 million, and GHS7.6 million for the month of April, May and June 2020 respectively.

During the debate on the matter, Kumbungu MP, Ras Mubarak, raised concerns regarding the inclusion of BNI officials as frontline workers.

“Mr. Speaker, the committee reports that there was a challenge in defining frontline workers. Mr. Speaker, it is important that this House is told who has been captured as far as the list of beneficiaries is concerned. There is no list of who constitute those who will be benefitting from this. Mr. Speaker, supporting people who are working in critical areas is very important, but it must not be shrouded under the cloak of secrecy as it is. I would want to enquire from the Chairman of the Committee whether BNI is included in the list of those who will be benefitting. If they are included, what happens to others who are equally providing critical services.”

But responding to Ras Mubarak’s concerns, the Vice-Chairman on the Health Committee, also MP for Effiduase-Asokore, Dr. Ayew Afriyie on his part justified why some security agencies were captured and classified as frontline workers.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the motion that an amount of 174m for personnel and emoluments for frontline health workers and other additional allowances paid to front line health workers for the months of July, August and September 2020 be adopted. In so doing, I would want to say that, there were many approvements in the definitions of who a front line health worker is. Previously, we were told that they were going to focus on only health workers but in the committee meetings, we were realized that they some inter-agencies collaborations and for that matter has broadly increased the persons who qualify for this.”