An Associate Professor and Health Economist at the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Professor Justice Nonvignon, has urged the government not to succumb to external pressures to scrap the COVID-19 Levy.
He said the COVID-19 levy has the potential of raising about 100 to $600 million for the government and that it should be maintained and earmarked for the healthcare sector.
“One of the biggest mistakes we can make as a country is to put pressure on the government to scrap the Covid 19 levy, which has the potential of raising about 100 to 600 million dollars for the government. It must be earmarked for healthcare,” he stated.
Prof Nonvignon said this during the University of Ghana’s fifth Inaugural Lecture for the 2022/2023 academic year.
The lecture was on the theme: “The Pursuit of Health Amidst Scarcity: Economics, Health and the Romance in-between.”
It was organised in recognition of Prof Nonvignon’s achievement of the highest academic rank.
The COVID-19 Health Recovery Levy, introduced by the Government in 2021 is a stand-alone levy applied to the gross value of taxable supplies of goods and services provided under the Standard Rate and VAT Flat Rate Schemes.
However, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an end to COVID-19 as a public health emergency, calls have been made to the government to stop the one per cent tax.
Prof Nonvignon said the levy must be earmarked for the health sector and could also be used to support research, given the role institutions that were into research played, adding that Noguchi for instance was very instrumental during the pandemic.
“The fund needs to be earmarked for something even if it cannot go into the health system fund. Call it COVID Emergency Levy, or Levy to eradicate malaria or something. That way, it can be monitored,” he added.
Prof Nonvignon said another way to improve health spending was to take advantage of special programmes to support health.
He noted that the 2023 budget outlined 16 special programmes with the total budget being 9 billion cedis.
“However, only one is health specific, that is, nursing training allowance. There should be the introduction of special programmes on malaria, mental health, communicable diseases, and neglected tropical diseases.”