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COVID-19 Levy rakes in GH¢773.93m in 8 months

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
COVID-19 Levy rakes in GH¢773.93m in 8 months
COVID-19 Levy rakes in GH¢773.93m in 8 months

The government collected GH¢773.93 million in revenue from the COVID-19 Health Recovery Levy that was imposed last year.

The fiscal data released by the Ministry of Finance on April 22 indicated that the amount, which was received between May and December last year, was about 12.7 per cent lower than the budget target of GH¢889.07 million.

Expenditures on COVID-19 and related issues, however, summed up to more than GH¢2.8 billion for last year.

Shortfalls

From the revenue side, the data indicated that the lower-than-targeted outcome mirrors the performance of other revenue lines.

Total revenue and grants, domestic revenue, tax revenue and other major revenue lines churned out lower than projected, reflecting a trend that has bedevilled the economy since 2017.

The data showed that the GH¢773.93 million from the COVID-19 Levy was realised from the first eight months of its implementation.

The levy took off last May as one of the fiscal measures to mobilise funds to help defray the costs incurred by the government in the health sector in fighting the pandemic and its effects on lives and the economy.

COVID-19 expenses

On the expenditure side, the Finance Ministry data indicated that spending to contain the spread of the virus and its effects on lives and the economy were largely below targets last year.

It indicated that COVID-19 related expenditures totaled GH¢3.37 billion compared to a budget target of GH¢4.51 billion.

It also indicated that GH¢143.2 million was spent on the Covid-19 Alleviation Programme, which comprise subsidies for water and electricity to lifeline consumers against a budget target of GH¢200 million.

On the provision of health infrastructure in the wake of the pandemic, the data said it cost GH¢763.51 million although GH¢1.47 billion was budgeted.

The Covid-19 preparedness plan (national Covid-19 response) also cost GH¢597.65 million just as was budgeted.

It indicated that the Covid-19 revitalisation payment totaled GH¢539.31 million as against a target of GH¢1 billion.

On Covid-19 vaccines procurement and their operationalisation, the data indicated that GH¢756.02 million was spent last year against a target of GH¢929.3 million.

Coverage

The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) had said the COVID-19 Health Recovery Levy was applicable to both standard rate and value-added tax (VAT) flat rate registered persons.

It is calculated as a one per cent charge on the value of taxable supplies and applies to the supply of goods and services made in Ghana, excluding exempt goods or services.

It also covers the import of goods and services into the country.

Uses

In announcing the levy in the presentation of the 2021 Budget in March that year, the then-acting Minister of Finance, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said it was envisaged to support the efficient performance of the health sector following the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We propose a one percentage point increase in the national health insurance levy and a one percentage point increase in the VAT flat-rate to support expenditure related to COVID-19," Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.

The New Patriotic Member of Parliament for Suame in the Asante Region and the Majority Leader said the levy was needed to help mobilise additional revenue to employ more health workers at the country's health facilities, build new health facilities and finance the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines across the country.

It would also support the establishment of 14 medical waste treatment facilities across the country for the safe disposal of medical waste in collaboration with the private sector, he added.