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MPs want 30 percent tax levied on health workers risk allowance scrapped

Risk allowances for health workers working in the COVID-19 Treatment Units were subjected to 30% tax. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament on the COVID-19 task force have asked the government not to deduct 30 percent off the risk allowances for health workers deployed in the COVID-19 Treatment Units- CTU.

The MPs who are on the nationwide tour to assess Covid-19 management capacities in health facilities and local governments noted that the response teams are finding difficulties to effectively operate with conditioned financial releases.

Last week, there were reports that several health workers received the payment through mobile money instead of their respective bank accounts as it was in 2020. The government committed to pay each health worker in CTU an allowance of Shillings 80,000 for each day of work.

At Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, Dr Wilson Etolu, the COVID-19 focal point person at the hospital told the MPs that the health workers are demoralized by the deductions on their allowances. Etolu also said that the frontline workers delay receiving the allowances.

At Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, taxing the risk allowance also emerged. Jonathan Ebwalu, the Soroti City West Division MP tasked the Mbale Hospital Director Emmanuel Tugaineyo to explain why the hospital management deducts allowances of the health workers deployed at CTU.

Ebwalu said that they had received several complaints from health workers on the deduction of their risk allowances which he notes should be scrapped.

But Tugaineyo in response said that he was not responsible for any deductions of the money and asked the MPs to follow the matter with Uganda Revenue Authority-URA. He said that health workers risk allowances are paid from the centre not at regional referral hospitals.

While meeting health workers in Northern Uganda, the MPs said they will engage the Ministry of Finance on a possible waiver of the tax.

Dr Charles Ayume, the Chairperson of Northern Uganda Parliamentary Taskforce Committee on Covid-19, also Koboko Municipality MP says there is a need to engage the Finance Minister on the taxes being levied.

He says the risk allowances are inadequate and being disbursed late despite the risks the frontline health workers go through while treating Covid-19.

Dr Ayume says health workers are putting a brave spirit in the fight against the virus and deserve the full amount of allowances being remitted by the government to boost their morale.

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, Bardege-Layibi Division Member of Parliament said that there is a need to take extra consideration on the services frontline health workers are offering.

He says they will also ensure that they engage the government to make consideration on making timely payment for the allowances of health workers and staff undertaking surveillance work across the country.

Last week, Ian Muhimbise Rumanyika, the Acting Assistant Commissioner in charge of Public and Corporate Affairs at URA said that any monthly income exceeding 410,000 Shillings is charged 30 percent tax.

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