COVID levy not for 'free water and electricity' - Oppong Nkrumah

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah  —  Minister of Information
Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah — Minister of Information

The COVID-19 Health Levy introduced by the government in the 2021 Budget Statement is not for the free water and electricity which was enjoyed by Ghanaians in 2020, the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said.

At a press briefing on Sunday afternoon [March 21, 2021], Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the claim that the government has said that people have to pay for the free water and electricity was false.

“You know that government has never said that you have to pay for the free water and electricity,” he said.

Rather, “the COVID levy is not for free water and electricity. For the avoidance of doubt, the Ministry of Finance’s statement [ATTACHED BELOW] deals with it but if you also go into the budget, if you go to page 58… of the full document, it outlines the uses of the COVID levy.”

Mr Oppong Nkrumah explained that the budget outlines what government has done with the COVID programme, listed it all in the budget and goes on to make the point that to provide a requisite resource to sustain the implementation of these measures government is proposing the introduction of a COVID-19 Health Levy of one percentage point increase in the National Health Insurance Levy and one percentage point increase in the VAT Flat Rate for that purpose.”

So the correct position as highlighted by the Ministry of Finance should be noted, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said.

In a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on Friday, March 19, 2021, the government provided details of how it intends to use the Covid-19 levy.

The explanation followed recent reports suggesting that the government will use the Covid-19 levy to pay for the 2020 free water and electricity which was enjoyed by Ghanaians

The government refuted claims that the newly-approved levy will be utilised in paying for the free water and electricity expenditure of 2020. 

The statement outlined seven key areas on which it intends to spend the funds accrued from the levy. 

According to the statement, the free water and electricity of 2020 “ought not to be misconstrued to mean the new taxes of 2021 are a direct charge for those services.”

Providing details on the appropriation of the levy, the statement noted that funds from the levy will be used in the procurement, distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines, establishment of 14 medical waste treatment facilities across the country for safe disposal of medical waste and the completion of 33 major health projects approved for implementation. 

The statement also added that the levy will be used for the construction of 100-bed district hospitals in 101 districts with no hospitals, seven regional hospitals for the new regions under the government’s Agenda 111, recruit more health care professionals to fill the 111 district hospitals and supplement the 100,000 health workers recruited so far under the current administration.

Watch a video of the press briefing below

Attached below is the full document of the 2021 Budget