Parliament has approved a total of GH₵179.7 million as waiver on the income taxes of all frontline health workers for three months this year.
The waiver will cover personal emoluments and additional allowances for July, August and September 2020.
Of the amount, GH₵168.98 million will cater for personal emoluments and GH₵5.7 million additional allowances.
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 coronavirus disease, and in caring for the sick in general.
The request for waiver of income taxes was presented to the House on August 11, 2020, by the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mrs. Abena Osei-Asare, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, and will cover health workers in government health facilities, quasi-government health facilities and private health facilities.
It was referred to the Finance Committee for consideration and report.
Frontline health personnel
A report by the committee described frontline health personnel to include those working in the most critical and risky areas in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The number of health workers who fell into the ‘frontline’ category for the months of April, May and June, 2020 were 6,091, 7,418 and 7,196 respectively with the corresponding expenditure on the additional allowances being GH₵6.5 million, GH₵7.5 million and GH₵7.6 million for the months of April, May and June, 2020 respectively,” it said
The report, signed by the Chairman of the committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, said as part of measures to support frontline personnel involved in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the government decided that all health workers would not pay taxes on their emoluments for a three-month period, commencing April 2020.
It said all frontline health workers were also to receive an additional allowance of 50 per cent of their basic salary per month tax-free for the period March to June, 2020.
To support health workers in the continued flight against the COVlD-19 pandemic, the government decided to extend these incentives granted to health workers to cover the months of July, August and September 2020, it said.
Risks to health workers
It said the risk of COVID-19 infection to doctors, nurses and others on the frontlines had become very evident across the globe where scores of health workers had been infected with 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.
“Together with the added pressure of workplaces, health workers face a lot of strain and have to overcome their own fears to put themselves on the line daily to treat the sick and to combat the pandemic,” the report said.
Expand scope of incentive coverage
Seconding the motion, the Member of Parliament for Ho, Mr. Benjamin Kpodo said the first approval for April this year took a long time for the government to pay the first tranche to frontline health workers their allowances.
“Our hope is that this time it will not take the same form,” he said, adding that the scope of frontline health workers did not cover only professional health personnel but also those who were directly involved in organising logistics for testing for the virus and those supporting the management of isolation centres.