Parliament has approved an amount of GHS174 million as income tax waiver for Ghana’s frontline health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The waiver covers personal emoluments for the months of July, August and September 2020.
The approval is in line with President Nana Akufo-Addo’s promise to give health workers a 50 per cent tax-free allowance on their basic salaries per month.
The tax incentive was designed by the government to encourage healthcare workers, especially frontline health personnel, to continue to make sacrifices in caring for those infected with COVID-19.
According to the report of the Finance Committee of Parliament, the number of health workers who fell into the frontline category for April, May and June 2020 were 6,091, 7,418, and 7,196, respectively with their corresponding expenditure on additional allowances being GHS6.5 million, GHS7.5 million, and GHS7.6 million for the respective months.
Presenting the Finance Committee’s report to the house, its Chairman, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah said personal emoluments are estimated at GHS168 million and additional allowances pegged at GHS5 million.
He noted that the incentives would be extended for three more months.
“Mr Speaker, to support frontline health workers in the continued fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has decided to extend these incentives granted to help workers, to cover the months of July, August and September 2020”, he told the house.
Dr Assibey-Yeboah said the incentives cover health workers in government health facilities, quasi-government health facilities as well as private health facilities.
As to who qualifies as a frontline health worker, he said: “the Committee was informed that there has been a challenge in defining who a frontline worker is but in collaboration with the relevant agencies, a working definition of who a frontline health personnel is, has been accepted. These personnel were said to include those working in the most critical and risky areas in the fight against the pandemic”.
Meanwhile, Kumbungu MP Ras Mubarak raised concerns about the inclusion of BNI officials as frontline workers.
According to him, the move is unjustifiable, given the agitation of some health workers over their exclusion.