Parliament grants GH₵288.6m tax exemptions for health workers

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A request for waiver on income taxes amounting to GH₵288,644,003.34 submitted to the legislature by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to help cushion health workers in both public and private health facilities, who are on the frontline fighting the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been granted.

The House in a unanimous decision, gave the tax relief item on personal emoluments of health workers thumbs up, at a sitting on Friday, May 1, 2020.

It covers the months of April, 2020, May 2020, and June 2020 and additional allowances of 50% of their basic salary paid to frontline health personnel for the months of March 2020, April 2020, May 2020 and June 2020.

The tax component on the personal emoluments amounts to GH₵237,579,041.25 while that on the additional allowances amounts to GH₵51,064,962.09.

www.kasapafmonline.com understands that the Ministry of Health is yet to decide on whether or not to extend the tax incentive to casual/IGF workers of Government hospitals.

Assibey-Yeboah’s presentation

The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, presenting the committee’s report to the plenary for consideration and adoption told Members that the proposed tax reliefs for the health workers were premised on the fact that the risk of COVID-19 infection to doctors, nurses and others on the frontlines has become very evident across the globe: Italy, UK, Spain, USA and other countries with some of these health workers contracting the coronavirus with many reported dead.

“Health workers also face considerable mental stress. It is often forgotten that as humans, they fell 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. These factors, together with the added pressure of work places a lot of strain on health workers who overcome their own fears to put themselves on the line daily to treat the sick and to combat the pandemic”, he noted.

He told the House that the tax incentives are expected to encourage healthcare workers and other frontline personnel to continue to make sacrifices in caring for those infected with the virus, and in caring for the sick in general.

Background

As part of measures to support frontline personnel involved in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Ghana has decided that all health workers will not pay taxes on their emoluments for a three-month period commencing April 2020.

Ato Forson’s contribution

The Ranking Member on the Finance Committee, Casiel Ato Forson, contributing the discussion expressed dismay about the changes in the amount quoted as tax reliefs for the health workers.

He said at a point the Minister of Finance submitted to Parliament an amount of GH₵241million and therefore does not understand why the said amount has suddenly shot up to GH₵288.6million.

Dr. Twum-Nuamah’s response

However, his fears were allayed by the Chairman of the Health Committee and MP for Berekum East, Dr. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah. He told the House that the sudden increase in the amount had to do with additional allowances covering a period of one month that will be paid to the frontline health workers.

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