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House approves GH¢174.7m COVID-19 tax waiver for health workers

Parliament has by a resolution approved a request by government for tax waiver amounting to GH¢174,696,712 for health workers as part of measures in the fight against Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

The amount include GH¢168,982,295 on personal emoluments for all health workers and GH¢5,713,787 as additional allowances for frontline health workers in the COVID-19 fight. 

The package for frontline health workers covers the months of April, May and June 2020. 

According to government, the tax incentive is designed as a token compensation to encourage healthcare workers, especially frontline health personnel to continue to make sacrifices in caring for those infected with the virus and the sick in general. 

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The tax incentives cover health workers in government health facilities, quasi-government and private health facilities across the country. 

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in one of his national addresses on the COVID-19 situation in the country and steps taken by government to address same, announced the package for persons in the health care delivery chain. 

After months of dilemma of who qualifies to be called a frontline health worker, the Deputy Health Minister, Dr Bernard Oko Boye told Parliament on July 20, 2020 that the frontliners have been identified. 

“The definition for frontline workers, as agreed on with all relevant stakeholders, is any health worker who has been involved in the management of a confirmed case of COVID-19,” Dr Boye told the House. 

These category of workers, the report said face considerable mental stress in line of duty hence the need for the package. 

“It is often forgotten that as humans, they feel 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,” the report, signed by Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee and MP, New Juaben said.

Supporting the motion, Ho Central MP, Benjamin Kpodo, called for the bringing of more health workers into the bracket. 

He cited an example where health workers at a facility, who may not qualify as frontline health worker, all had to come together to attend to a confirmed COVID-19 patient. 

Dr Nana Ayew Afriyie, Effiduase/Asokore MP, described the package as a good motivation for health workers and added that such incentive would spur health workers on to give off their best. 

He commended government for the initiative and urged all health workers to give off their best in appreciation of government’s response to their plight. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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