ICU threatens unrest over proposed 1% levy on workers’ salary

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The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) is threatening to protest the proposed one per cent levy on the salaries of formal sector workers to fund the country’s national health insurance scheme.

Formal sector workers currently pay 2.5 per cent of their 17.5 per cent contribution from the tier one pension fund to run the NHIS scheme, but the Management of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) says that is inadequate.

In May last year, when management of the NHIA appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, it proposed a one per cent levy to be slapped on alcohol and tobacco.

This, according to the NHIA, will help the Authority raise enough funds and increase its subscriber base.

Before that could be approved by parliament, the NHIA is again pushing for another one per cent levy on the salary of formal sector workers.But the ICU has kicked against the proposal, and demanding the NHIA immediately audit its operations and explain how much has so far been contributed by the workers since the inception of the policy in 2003 before proposing a further one per cent levy.

“We will not agree. We have done our assessment and we say they have a problem. But we have also heard how the NHIA was ran down, where services were not rendered among other irregularities,” General Secretary of the ICU, Solomon Kotei said.

The NHIA is of the view the introduction of the levy would help them to achieve their target of GHC803 million this year from the 345 million in 2016.

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Currently, the NHIA is indebted to a tune of GHC1.2 million out of which GHC800,000 has been paid to service providers.

According to the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health, Robert Cudjoe, discussions are currently ongoing and the ministry will meet organised labour to resolve the issue.

By Daniel Opoku||Ghana